It’s hard for me to believe, but this school year marks my 8th year as an administrator. For the past 7 years I have had the privilege of observing thousands of hours of lessons taught by amazing teachers. One of the things that I have come to realize is that I would be a much better teacher today than I was when I was still in the classroom.
Why do I feel that way?
I have learned more about teaching by watching the amazing things teachers do on a daily basis. It seems like almost every time I walk into a classroom, something happens that makes me pause and reflect on why the teacher made that choice. What does that reflection lead to? Growth.
When I was still a classroom teacher, I had my daily prep, just like everyone else. I used it for things that I felt were important; grading papers, working on lesson plans, or preparing for upcoming lessons (and sometimes for chatting with my teammates) among the hundreds of other things that would happen during my prep. One of the things that I never did though – observe the master teachers in my building.
At the time, I probably felt like I didn’t have time to just sit and watch someone teach. After all, I could just talk to them before or after school to get some ideas and resources from them. But the reality is that just talking with someone doesn’t bring in all the nuance that can come from observing a full lesson. Not to mention all the things that teachers do during a lesson that have nothing to do with their content. Things like their use of proximity with a student, the tone of voice when asking or answering a question, or even the way they handle a transition from one part of an activity to another. There is so much that can be learned by sitting and being present.
So often as teachers, we live in the little bubble of our classroom during the school day. We may know the topic that another teacher said they were covering, and we may share something about a lesson we’re excited about, but there’s no way to really know what’s happening in a classroom until you get a chance to sit inside and observe. We need to be brave enough to break down those barriers that exist and give a little time to observation.
And I know there’s another side to this coin. What if you’re the one being observed? I think we all get a little bit nervous when there is another adult in the classroom. But here’s the reality, just as King Solomon said, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
We all become our better selves through learning from one another. Think of the compliment that is being given to you if someone wants to come to your room to observe. They are giving up one of the most valuable commodities, time, to try to learn from you. We want to create an environment where teachers sharpen teachers.
I have some ideas about how I may integrate this idea of observing others in my own building, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you spent time observing other teachers? What have you learned from that experience? What are your ideas about how you might manage a system for observing one another? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
I’ve always loved this quote from Maya Angelou. Over the past several years, there’s been a lot of opportunities for learning about better ways to interact with our students. In the summer of 2017, several of us had the chance to learn from Jim Sporleder about the idea of Trauma-Informed Care based on the work he did in his school in Washington. Many of us walked away with new ideas about how we work with kids. Others of us may have seen the movie “Paper Tigers” documenting his work with trauma-informed schools. Last year, several teachers read the book Lost at School by Ross W. Greene, and it gave us more to think about. Last semester several of our teachers attended a training on Restorative Practices at the Peace Learning Center. We are currently working on a plan to be able to provide this training to all of our teachers. At the beginning of this school year, we did a training on de-escalation techniques. For the past 2 years, I have worked as a member of our district wide Trauma-Informed Team, where we have talked about ways to expand this knowledge. All of this learning has taught us new strategies for how to handle difficult situations with kids.
Some of you have heard about the concepts of trauma-informed care, and many of us have tried to implement strategies that we’ve learned through our various experiences to better support our kids. That said, there is a question that I continue to hear from time to time: “How do I know if this kid has trauma?” My response, more and more, is “Many times we won’t know.” But then I also wonder, does it matter?
Between what we have learned about Trauma-Informed Care, through Lost at School, Restorative Practices, and so much more, I’m beginning to think of these strategies not so much as something we do with “those kids” but more as something that we do with ALL KIDS because we know they work for everyone!
Let’s start thinking of all of these various new strategies not so much as something that we do with some kids or with the kids that need it, rather, these are strategies that we can use to support all kids because they work for all kids! Trauma-Informed should become part of our tier 1 process that we use with every child every day.
So I’m curious, what have been your experiences? Have you tried using more trama-informed practices in your classroom? Or have you begun instituting proactive circles (sometimes called community circles) as a part of your learning about restorative practices? What have you noticed with your students? What works? What are you still struggling with? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Recently I was talking to a friend who is a teacher. I noticed some cool project-based learning activities that she shared on Twitter, and I was talking to her about them. She’s a fairly experienced teacher, and one of the things that she said really struck a chord with me:
“You know, I used to teach really differently than I do now. Ten years ago, the things I was doing were easier for me. The things I do now are harder, and I keep hoping that those things will get easier. As I reflect though, while things have gotten harder for me, the learning experiences for my students have gotten better. I guess I’m not sure that I’m hoping for the right things. It’s not easy for us, but it’s the right thing to do.”
Woah! What a powerful statement! A favorite author of mine is George Couros. In his book The Innovator’s Mindset, he says:
“I’m defining innovation as a way of thinking that creates something new and better. Innovation can come from either ‘invention’ (something totally new) or ‘iteration’ (a change to something that already exists), but if it does not meet the idea of ‘new and better,’ it is not innovative. That means change for the sake of change is never good enough. Neither is using innovation as a buzzword as many organizations do to appear current and relevant.”
And in a recent blog post, AJ Juliani took it a step further… He argued that just being new and better isn’t quite enough. We need to make sure that it is also better for our learners.
And here’s the thing about that – we all know it is difficult to plan for a project-based learning experience. It’s difficult to build an inquiry project for your students. It’s difficult to create learning opportunities that integrate Language Arts, Math, Science, and more into a single unit of study. But what about the opportunities it creates for our students?
We talk about preparation for the next in education all the time. Whether we’re thinking about the next year, the next step, the first job, whatever… The reality is that with the world changing so rapidly, we’re naïve to think that we have any idea what the future really holds. I’m sure my elementary and middle school teachers never imagined that some of the kids in their class would be making money by taking pictures and posting them to Instagram. What amazing things that we can’t even imagine will our students be doing when they are out in “the world”?
So, given the fact that we can’t predict the future, more than anything we need to provide a skill set to our young people that prepares them for anything. We have no way to know where they might go!
So often we have been talking about 21st century skills, but we have to remember that we are now almost 2 decades into the 21st century, and some of the students sitting in our classroom will actually see the 22nd century!
So here’s the question. Why do we do these hard things? We know that it takes us more time and effort to create these deep learning experiences for our students but look at the results. Most students are more highly engaged when given true project-based learning experiences, or student driven inquiry projects. And with that higher level of engagement comes stronger learning experiences. And with those stronger learning experiences our students will be better prepared for whatever their future may hold.
If we’re worried about preparing kids for the “real world,” then this should concern us:
My aunt is telling me at her jobs the problem they have when they hire new people is they sit at their desk and do nothing because they are trained in school to be told what to do. This is not the real world. #intherealworld
Yes, it’s harder to teach this way. The reality is that it’s harder for administrators to lead this style of learning. But when we look at the children walking into our building, and we remember that we have no way to know what their future may hold, we’ve got to focus on those skills that take them anywhere – critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication.
As you have shifted to deeper learning activities, what has been your experience? Have you noticed a greater desire and drive for learning from your students? Share your experiences in the comments below!
As I sit at my kitchen table tonight, just after having received the news that school has been cancelled tomorrow, and trying to wrap my mind around how cold a -40°F wind chill will actually feel like (yes, I do plan to go outside just to say I did it!), I find myself thinking about summer and much warmer weather. For some reason, I started thinking about my summers spent on Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin at Camp Brosius, and the time I spent learning to sail on one of the many Sunfish sailboats.
My first experience with sailboats involved a Hobie 16, my dad, and a little help from the rescue boat. We were both learning what we were doing! Over time he became better, and I recall as a young boy enjoying riding with him while he guided us around the lake – sometimes on the Hobie, other times on a Sunfish, or any one of the other boats that the camp had available to use.
Eventually, around middle school, I decided I wanted to learn to sail all by myself. I remember Jim, the camp director, pulling one of the Sunfish into the swim area one morning, teaching me about the various parts of the boat, and what they did. As I reflect on it now, after a shockingly short lesson (probably not over 30 minutes), he had me climbing aboard and shoving me out into the lake. I can hear Jim saying “You don’t learn by talking about it and looking at it, you learn by getting out there and trying!” The wind wasn’t that strong yet that morning, it normally picked up in the afternoon, so I was planning to tool around just off the shore in front of the camp’s waterfront. I grabbed the rudder and main sheet, set my sails, and I was off! Or so I thought…
As I got further from the shore, the wind caught a bit more of my sail, and instead of heading straight, as my rudder was pointing, my boat seemed to be sliding sideways across the top of the water. No matter how I moved my rudder, the boat just wouldn’t go in the direction I wanted.
As I drifted further from the shore, without any real control, I could hear someone yelling at me from the swimming t. Jim, the camp director, was yelling “You forgot the centerboard!” I looked, and sure enough, the centerboard was laying inside the cockpit. I quickly pulled it out and placed it down the middle of the hull. Next thing I knew, I was moving (mostly) in the direction I wanted (remember, I was just learning).
Thinking about sailing got me thinking a bit about teaching and learning. Part of what I love about the Sunfish is how simple of a boat it really is. There’s the hull (or body of the boat), the mast that holds the sail up. Then there’s the sail that absorbs the energy of the wind and translates that into motion. The rudder helps the sailor to guide the boat in the correct direction. And finally, there’s the centerboard. Even if everything else is working in perfect harmony, without the centerboard, the best sailor isn’t too likely to stay on course.
What’s the connection to learning? The hull of the boat is our classroom. Then let’s think of the rudder as being our standards. They help us decide on what our students “need” to be learning about. It gives our boat direction. The sailor on the boat (most of the time) is the teacher. You get to make the decisions about how to set the rudder and the mainsail (although hopefully your students are getting some input here too). You point the boat in the direction you think it needs to go. The sail is our students, and the wind is the constant opportunity for learning. So that sounds like most all that we need to think about, right?
Not quite. For true learning, we need to have the centerboard to help keep us on course. That is our North Star of Learning.
Grant Lichtman, the author of Moving the Rock: Seven Levers WE Can Press to Transform Education, has often used the metaphor of the North Star to talk about the idea of having a shared vision of where we want to get to in terms of great learning. If we don’t agree on where we are going, we have random movement, in random directions, and we end up nowhere! Think about the North Star, no matter where you stand, we can all find it, we can all point to it, we can all figure out our route to get there. In that same way, when we have a shared vision of learning, and we understand that no two educators are moving towards it from the same place, we all have to set a course of our own.
As educators, we are used to the idea that our students all come to us from a different starting point, and we have to adjust our teaching to meet them where they are in order to get them to where they need to be. What does it mean though if not all educators are starting their trip towards the North Star from the same place?
It means the day of one size fits all professional development has passed us by. It means that each of us has to be reflective on where we are on our path towards our North Star. It means recognizing our own strengths and weaknesses, accentuating our strengths, and being willing to seek out opportunities to professionally grow in order to move closer to our North Star. It means deciding to take your own learning into your own hands. If there’s something you need to get better at, seek out a resource. It might be someone just down the hall, it might be a blog post or article, it might be a book. It could also mean approaching your administrator to ask for ideas on how you might continue to grow in that area. Given that our focus is on LEARNING, I would hope anyone would feel comfortable to ask for assistance in finding the best possible resources for their personal growth. I know that I am constantly seeking resources from colleagues, mentors, and leaders that are around me.
As an educator, I’m hopeful that this post encourages you to reflect on a couple of things. First and foremost, do you feel that there is a North Star for your district or school? If not, start a conversation with your colleagues, ask your administrator, reflect on your own opinions and beliefs, and start that conversation for a true shared understanding. Next, take a moment to reflect on where you are as an educator, and what it is that you need to do to course correct so that you can help your students to reach that North Star.
As we come to the end of this post, take a moment and think about what your beliefs are about students. What is your personal North Star of Learning? Share with us in the comments below!
Last week I had the privilege to attend the Fourth Annual Indiana STEM Education Conference at Purdue University. Purdue’s College of Education sees K-12 STEM education as one of its two signature areas of focus for pre-service teachers. In this K-12 STEM path, Purdue is “preparing teachers who can weave STEM subjects throughout their curriculum and introduce the concepts through real-world application. Our focus goes beyond the specific STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and math – to include literacy, social studies, problem-solving, critical thinking and communication.” This belief fits well with the Indiana Department of Education’s STEM Six-Year Strategic Plan (can be found here: http://bit.ly/IndianaSTEMPlan). This plan has the stated mission to “Ensure Indiana teachers are prepared to provide every student in grades K-12 with an evidence-based, effective STEM education…”
The opening of the conference included a guest speaker that I was super excited to see – Buzz Aldrin! It was cool to hear Aldrin talk about his experiences, as well as his hopes for continued space exploration. Aldrin is a huge supporter of getting a human being to Mars. Not to mention, there’s something pretty awesome about being in the same room as someone who actually walked on the moon.
The rest of the conference was made up of several break-out sessions, and I have to say that every one I attended was excellent. I want to share some of the tidbits I picked up while I was there.
My first session was on the connection between STEM and Project Based Learning. In that session, we began by talking a little about the Science and Engineering Process Standards (SEPS). If you look at the science standards of any grade level or science curriculum, the first two pages of the standards are made up of these process standards focusing on 8 key areas:
SEPS.1 Posing questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
SEPS.2 Developing and using models and tools
SEPS.3 Constructing and performing investigations
SEPS.4 Analyzing and interpreting data
SEPS.5 Using mathematics and computational thinking
SEPS.6 Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
SEPS.7 Engaging in argument from evidence
SEPS.8 Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
In two of the sessions I attended, presenters talked about the value of STEM Challenges or Engineering Projects as a way to help meet some of these process standards. Here are a couple of examples:
The Paper Chain Challenge: For this challenge, students need 1 piece of paper, scissors, and tape. The challenge? Try to make the longest possible paper chain. As a constraint, you could change the materials allowed. Another variation on this was that you do not provide tape, and you had to make the longest continuous piece of paper without using tape, paperclips, or any other objects to connect the paper back together. When we did this challenge, we were only given 5 minutes, then had a 5 minute conversation to process our designs, compare the length of each chain, etc. In those 10 minutes, we hit on 5 of the SEPS!
Drop Copter Challenge: Have you ever made a drop copter? For directions, click here: http://bit.ly/DropCopter. Once you have the students create their drop copter, then you add in the challenge. Now they have to make one modification to their copter to improve the way the copter falls to the ground. I’m sure there are a variety of ways you could define “improve”, so you can figure out what it means for you (or even better, let the students decide!). After the adjustment and testing, spend another 5-10 minutes processing the challenge with students. Again, several SEPS hit in less than a half hour!
Parachute Challenge: Provide students with large sheets of tissue paper (like for wrapping a present), tape, 5 paperclips, and 2 pieces of string (you can decide on the length). Give students 5-10 minutes to design, build, test, and redesign a parachute. The goal is to design a parachute that takes the longest to reach the ground. When time is up, have all the students come to the front, drop from the same height, and compare the fall time. Finally, spend some time processing the challenge with the kids. Again, we’ve just hit on multiple SEPS in less than a half hour!
These are just a couple of the potential STEM Challenges that were fairly short. Another session I attended also hit on the SEPS, but they were coming at it from the Engineering Design process. I’ve seen lots of different models for the Engineering Design Process, but I liked the language that was used by Science Learning through Engineering Design (SLED). Check it out:
SLED has an awesome website, STEMEdhub.org, but I wanted to direct you in particular to their Design Resources page (check that out here). This page lists a multitude of activities and various grade levels. When you click on a title, it takes you to a page with more information about the project. Want to see more (like the lesson plans, materials needed, etc.)? Click the purple Download button to the right of the title. Unlike the STEM Challenges above that could be done in a half hour or less, these are more in depth, long term projects that will take your students through the design process you see above.
I wanted to briefly touch on my final two sessions, which were on similar topics. One was about an intermediate school in Ellettsville that implemented a school-wide genius hour program. At this school, every other Friday, the entire school basically shuts down for the last hour of the day. Students then work on their genius hour projects. These projects are ungraded, student-led, and lead to a STEAM Night Showcase where students share their findings from their genius hour project. The teachers, administrators, counselors, custodians, and other adults in the building are all able to serve as advisors for students who choose projects on a topic that they have an interest or understanding in. The school has even partnered with outside professionals who can come in and help be mentors for topics students are interested in. Being located near Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center and Cook Inc. opens up the possibility of some great partnerships for this school.
The final session of the day that I attended was put on by the innovation director and principal from New Palestine Intermediate. This year they created a new day in their related arts rotation called Innovation Hour. Other schools might call this learning clubs, or choice activity time. To create the clubs, staff members signed up with something they were passionate about. Examples include gardening, drones, coding, woodworking, etc. Students then sign up for their top three choices. Once assigned to an Innovation Hour, then they meet every 4th day from 8:30 to 9:20, and all the students are able to participate in the club they are assigned to. So far, everyone has been able to get one of their top 3 choices.
One of my current goals is to figure out how to bring something like either the Genius Hour project, or the innovation hour to Riverside Intermediate. On February 6th, our students will be participating in the Global School Play Day, and we have it set up with choice activities that students will be able to get involved in. It is my hope that this will serve as a jumping off point for one of these more long term learning opportunities for our students!
So, what are your thoughts? Anything here that you plan to use in your classroom? Anything that you already do that you can share with our readers? I’d love to hear what you have to say!
At a recent PLC meeting of the Humanities teachers at my school, we were spending some time digging into the concept of Cognitive Complexity vs. that of Difficulty. This conversation was rolled into a much deeper conversation about the ILEARN, Indiana’s new computer-adaptive assessment that all students will be taking in grades 3-8. We began talking about the differences in difficulty and cognitive complexity because we were learning that no matter what difficulty level a student fell into on the adaptive test, all students will be solving problems that are cognitively complex. So, what’s the difference between the two concepts?
When we try to define the concept of difficulty, it is considered a measure of the effort required to complete a task. In the purpose of an assessment, a problem that many students missed would be considered more difficult than a problem that everyone got right. So when looking at the difficulty of a problem or task in your classroom, the more likely it is that all students will get it correct, the less difficult it is.
As we know, all our students come to us varying levels of understanding. In his book The End of Average, Todd Rose talks about the jaggedness of people. Not only do our students walk into our classrooms with physical differences that we can all see, they walk in with different abilities in math, reading, etc. In adaptive testing, an assessment will adjust its level of difficulty based on the answers students get correct or incorrect. As one student gets a question correct, the next question will most likely be more difficult. On the other hand, a student who gets a question wrong will then see a question that is less difficult. All standards can be measured at varying levels of difficulty. Take for example the following two math problems that are working on the same skill:
Easy: Sarah planted 5 rows of 7 flowers in each row. Write a multiplication equation that shows the number of flowers in Sarah’s rectangular garden.
Difficult: Tom told Mary he planted 48 flowers in the rectangular-shaped garden. Select the correct number sentence Mary could use to describe how the flowers were planted.
As you can see, both questions require students to solve the same type of problem, using a similar level of thinking, but because of the wording, the second question would be considered more difficult.
To define the idea of complexity, we have to think about it as a measure of the thinking action, or knowledge that you need to complete a task. One way to think about this is to think about how many different ways can a task be accomplished. I think the best way to think about the idea of complexity is to think in relation to Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. DOK can be broken down into 4 different levels: Recall and Reproduction; Basic Application of Skills; Strategic Thinking; and Extended Thinking.
So basically, cognitive complexity is a way to measure how demanding of a thought process is necessary to complete a specific task. Items that simply ask a student to recall basic facts from an article they just read would be much less complex than an item that required analyzing the points of view of two separate authors and making a comparison of their purpose for writing.
So… How should an understanding of these two concepts impact our teaching in the classroom? The reality is, no matter what level of difficulty a student may be working at – whether they are reading below grade level, or working on math that is above grade level – all our students need to see the types of problems that have a high level of cognitive complexity, because no matter what level of difficulty they are working with, they need to be able to use a variety of levels of thinking in carrying out tasks in the classroom.
There are a couple of great resources that you can use to help find ways to up the level of cognitive complexity no matter what level of difficulty your students are working at.
EngageNY: A huge collection of resources for both math and language arts (and everything is FREE!!!) that will include performance tasks and opportunities for students to perform cognitively complex activities. You can search by specific topics, or seek things out based on grade level and topic.
YouCubed: A wealth of activities for math instruction, based on the work of Jo Boaler. You can seek out tasks for your students to complete, find resources for your students or parents, and so much more!
Open Middle: Another math based site that provides tons of challenging math problems. Again, you can search by grade level, topic, and more. Carrying out a problem like this a couple times a week in your classroom will up the DOK immensely!
I’m sure that there are lots of other ideas you may have to help increase the cognitive complexity within your classroom. What resources do you have? How do you make sure that all your students have opportunities to carry out tasks that are truly cognitively challenging to them? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop on the Introduction to Restorative Practices. It was one of the most powerful learning events that I have attended in my many years in education. For the past couple of years, I have been dabbling in the concepts of restorative practices, trying to gain an understanding of just what it is, and how we could use the ideas in my school building. Until attending this workshop, I’ve struggled to figure out just how to implement some of the things I have learned. This seemed like the perfect opportunity!
Today’s post will focus primarily on the principles of restorative practices as shared by Kristina Hulvershorn of the Peace Learning Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. But before we get into the principles, let’s talk about why we should be looking at restorative practices as a piece of our plan for handling behavior and conflict.
One of the things that I think we can agree on is that our more traditional methods of blame, shame, punishment, and exclusion just don’t effectively work for our stakeholders. It may make you as the teacher feel better when the student who has made a poor choice is removed from the room, but does it really solve the underlying problem? When we push students out, we’re providing the opposite of what they really need – an opportunity to learn to do better. When misbehavior occurs, it’s the perfect time to help students learn the skills they are lacking. As Dr. Ross Greene reminds us in his book Lost at School, “Kids do well if they can.” In addition, restorative practices help to address disproportionality of discipline on students of color. I hope we can look at restorative practices not as something new and different, but another tool to use when incidents of misbehavior occur.
So, what are the principles of restorative practices?
Acknowledges that relationships are central to building community.
Builds systems that address misbehavior and harm in a way that strengthens relationships.
Focuses on the harm done rather than only the rule-breaking.
Gives voice to the person harmed.
Engages in collaborative problem solving.
Empowers change and growth.
Traditionally, our system of discipline in schools has been mostly based in punitive measures. Things like detention, suspension, or expulsion has been the primary method of handling student discipline. I know that in my own history, I had moments of discipline where the consequences were purely punitive. But let’s remember for a moment the root of the word discipline – it comes from discipulus, the Latin word for pupil. That word is also the source of the word disciple. What if we began shifting our mindset on discipline towards the idea that it’s based on teaching, not on consequences? How might that change what you do when a student misbehaves?
Now I know the pushback from some of you – the real world won’t look at discipline as a teaching tool. If our students make these mistakes in the “real world” when they are older, they will face serious consequences, like losing their job, facing fines, or maybe even jail. You’d probably be able to come up with some great examples of times where this has happened. I agree that maybe this isn’t how the real world works. But here’s the thing: We’re a school, we’re dealing with kids who are bound to make mistakes, and we’re teachers. Shouldn’t we make it our goal to teach students how they should behave while they are still with us?
So, what can you do to start building a more restorative setting in your classroom? There are a few universal steps that will help you start down that path:
Daily community circles – Think about sitting in a circle with your class every day. Take a few minutes to have students share how their feeling, a high or low point of the weekend, what they are looking forward to, etc. The ideas are endless, and if you are struggling to come up with topics, ask your students to submit them for you! These circles will help build safety and trust among your class, help kids make connections, and help you build relationships with your kids because you know more about their interests.
Student-led norms/rules – What if all your classroom norms and rules were set by the students? I know there are a few classrooms in my school that use this. If you don’t, what ownership do students have in the norms? Most of the time, students will create norms that all can agree on, that meet your needs as the teacher, and then we can all agree to those norms and refer back to them on a regular basis.
Explicit teaching of SEL skills – Social Emotional Learning is such an important piece that too often gets shoved to the bottom of the to-do list (which means it doesn’t get done). If we want students to understand what is appropriate in our school, we have to take the time to teach them. It’s tempting to say “they should already know this!” but if their actions show that they don’t, then maybe it’s something they need to be retaught. Just like how you’d reteach a math or English lesson if you realized that students don’t understand, it’s important to reteach behavioral skills too!
Restorative language (the use of affective language) – To the right you’ll see a screen shot of a document with sentence starters for affective statements (I’ve also included a link to the document at the bottom of this post). If you share this with your students, post it in your room, and begin using statements like these, the kids will too!
Effort to build relationships – I think all teachers have stories they can share about “that kid” who has given them so much trouble, but then when you take the time to get to know them and what they care about, you begin to have more success. Building real relationships can help you get there with any kid! The community circle is one way to learn about kids, which can then help you find connections and conversations that you can have with that kid.
I hope to share more about restorative practices in the future, but here’s my ask to you: Take one of the 5 universal steps and give it a try. See what happens in your classroom. Does it change the way students treat one another? Does it lead to better relationships?
I know there are some of you who are already doing these things. If you have tried any of the ideas offered here, share with us what your experience has been. Let us know that positives (or struggles) you have found with these ideas?