The beginning of this school year is anything but typical, which goes with saying. In order to create spaces in which students can learn, we need to modify some of the ways we might have typically done things in the past, while still maintaining a sense of security and consistency. This is more important than ever before.
Restorative Practices is a buzz phrase many of you have probably heard of, or might even be practicing in your school. Restorative Practices range from prevention to response strategies, but in general, they are a relationship building and relationship restoring way to think about behavior.
When implemented, they build empathy within students. There are a myriad of ways these can be implemented, but the most well-known practices are Circles, or Morning Meetings (Responsive Classroom). Circles are a way to build relationships in the classroom, set a positive tone, reinforce social-emotional learning, and to have fun. The following is a free resource that comes from The Responsive Classroom. It not only describes how these Circles can be done during a pandemic, but also outlines lessons for grades kindergarten through 6th grade for the first two weeks of school (side note: if you’ve already started school, do not fear—circles can be implemented at any point!). The resource gives the rationale behind the Morning Meeting, social distancing considerations, hybrid and virtual learning pointners, guidance on scaffolding the practice and ensuring it’s trauma informed, and last but not least, addresses equity.