This entry is from my E-Newseletter, True Nature Tips, Stories, and Insights. Visit here for more information and to sign up.

Hello and Good Day to you,

After an incredibly full year of working with schools as a mindfulness, trauma informed, and restorative practices consultant I am left feeling inspired, humbled, determined, and grateful.

So much good work is happening in schools every where. Remember... shifting paradigms, shifting cultures takes time. Educators are being asked to adjust to a quickly shifting set of behaviors, challenges, and teaching requirements. The intention of this e-newsletter is to support you on your journey towards building more vital and restorative learning communities. I'd love to hear back from you on how any of these tips work or don't work.

Tip #1: The Roots of Harm "Chalk Talk"

One of the greatest challenges of building restorative schools is shifting the way we think about "misbehavior." Our schools have been built on a traditional paradigm: a rule is broken, therefore we need to dole out the appropriate consequence. This has been shifted in many schools: an expectation has not been met so we need to remind them of the expectation, teach or reteach the behavior we want, and possibly come up with a logical consequence. What I am hearing in school after school is that in many cases neither approach seems to result in a change to some more difficult or repetitive behavior. Why not?

I am not a social scientist, but I think it's clear that there really is no silver bullet response to misbehavior. There are so many cultural, psychological, and neurobiological factors at play in every instance that trump any one responsive solution. Change in behaviors comes from an intentional, whole school shift in how we view misbehavior and the harm it causes. When we shift the way we think, we change the way we respond—without scripts, acronyms, or question cards. We also change the way we teach, run meetings, supervise others. This whole school shift, with skill building in the areas of self-regulation, equity, SEL, and mindfulness can and will change behaviors.

How to begin?

Staff Activity to Shift Thinking (See the photo above.)

A simple and easy way to lead change in the way we think about misbehavior is to lead one or several "Chalk Talks" during a staff meeting to answer the question, "Where does harm come from?" Big thanks to Bobby Riley who proposed this idea for a seminar we led together "Restorative Responses to Harm" AND to Daniel Baron who developed the protocol.

  1. Access the "Chalk Talk" protocol developed by Daniel Baron for the School Reform Initiative.
  2. Tape together two or four chart papers on a wall , depending on group size and make sure each person has their own marker. (Groups no more than 20 people per chalk talk)
  3. In the middle of the paper write the question "Where does harm come from in our school."
  4. Follow the "Chalk Talk" protocol.
  5. After the work is finished follow the debrief prompts in the protocol and consider asking:
    1. What unmet needs are associated with the roots of harm?
    2. "How does our school currently work with these roots of harm and unmet needs?"
    3. f they have training in RP, ask them, "How might RP work with these roots?"
    4. "What changes to our systems, practices, rituals, teacher & leadership expectations can we make to work with these roots systematically?
  6. Before you end the process, use SMART goal worksheets to identify and plan ways to work with these roots of harm.

Please write back to let me know how it goes!