Sunday, November 28, 2010

Culture of Care PD in Troy, New York - 2nd visit

One December 2nd and 3rd I will be visiting the Enlarged School District of Troy, New York. This is my second visit to the school district. I introduced the Culture of Care to educators in the district in August.

At this visit I will be visiting schools in the district to observe and share some ideas. Also I will meet with the same leaders I met with in August to get an update on how implementation of the Culture of Care in their schools is going and to create an action plan for the next five months.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New book addresses bullying

I have just completed writing a review of the book Bully by Teresa Milbrodt. I wrote the book review at the request of restorative justice colleague Matthew Kuelhorn.

Book Review

Milbrodt, T. (2009). Bully. Gunnison, CO: Life Skoolz. Pp. 136. Available at

The author and publisher of this book are relatively new to the fields of restorative justice, bullying, and school violence. In an era when educators and those interested in education are focusing on the problem of bullying in schools, the author and publisher are to be commended for writing a contemporary and practical hands-on book as a response to a current issue.

My review of this book is influenced by my special interest in the field of restorative justice. I am currently interested in developing evidence-based restorative practices for schools. At the same time, I am working on the implementation of the theory of a culture of care in schools as a research and professional development project, related to improving the educational outcomes for Latino/Hispanic, African-American, and Native American students and am, therefore, interested in how restorative practices can improve outcomes for students who are minoritized, racialized, and marginalized.

This book contributes to the existing literature in the fields of restorative justice, bullying, and school violence by presenting what might be called case studies regarding a female student and male student who are harmed by bullying. These case studies or stories focus not only on those harmed by bullying but also those causing the harm, as well as onlookers, educators (particularly teachers and counselors), administrators, and members of the affected community.

This book is divided into five sections, which end with “Reflect Now” lessons or practices: (a) listening, (b) empathy, (c) talking story, (d) talking circles, and (e) restorative justice. These lessons are “designed to teach community building skills,” specifically by learning “how to listen, how to empathize, and how to tell our own story.”

Weaved into the book’s storyline are lessons aimed at improving community building skills in the areas of listening, emphathizing, and telling our own story. These skills are presented as the foundation for creating a new mindset about how students, educators, administrators, parents, and community members respond to wrongdoing and conflict in schools. This new mindset serves as the foundation for enhancing school communities by participating in the restorative practices outlined in the book: talking circles and restorative conferences.

Although this book does a good job of practically applying the theory that relationships do matter in schools and creating and maintaining positive and caring relationships are at the core of building the capacity of students and teachers to solve problems related to bullying nonviolently, the ideas presented in this book have not been subjected to systematic research and peer review of the results so that these ideas can be relied upon as being evidence-based by educators, policymakers, academics, and the wider society. However, I would note the ideas presented in this book are consistent with the evidence-based work I have published in two ways: First, building the capacity of students and teachers to respond to discipline problems such as bullying is important, and second, responding to the problem of bullying in the context of where it occurs and involving all those who were involved is crucial.

As I reviewed this book I noted that the stories are illustrated, particularly the central characters in the stories presented. However, I was disappointed to note that all of the central characters appear to be White. Given the multicultural nature of present day schools across America, I urge the author, illustrator, and publisher to make certain the any future editions of the book contain illustrations of central characters that represent the wide range of cultures present in our schools today.

I recommend this book for students, parents, teachers, counselors, administrators, and those people interested in education. This latest contribution to the field of bullying offers a practical guide on how to change a school’s response to bullying behaviors set within the framework of an engaging story.

Tom Cavanagh

Friday, July 30, 2010

New program for elementary schools

I am pleased to announce a new program for elementary schools which is available for free at this website:

Educating for peace: Creating and maintaining a peaceful environment in elementary schools

Tom Cavanagh, Ph.D.
Francis Gaebler, Psy.D.
Toni Schindler Zimmerman, Ph.D.

The purpose of this book or Collection is to offer a simple, easy-to-use facilitator’s guide for helping teachers, counselors, and parents of children K-6 to develop a school culture where violence is prevented and conflicts and problems are resolved nonviolently. Outcomes for this curriculum include the creation of an interpersonal and relational culture, where students feel safe, respected, heard, and confident about solving problems as part of a team. This curriculum fits with the fields of moral education, social and emotional learning, and nurturing pedagogy, and the outcomes are consistent with the current conversation in these fields.

If you are interested in having Dr Cavanagh facilitate professional learning about this new curriculum, please contact him at

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Culture of Care PD in Troy, New York

I will be facilitating a professional development for educators in the Enlarged City School District of Troy, New York, titled:


On August 4th and 5th.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New additions to website

New additions were made today to my website - Two items were updates.

1. Under "Publications," you will find a copy of the paper presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). I talked about that paper in an earlier blog.

2. Under "Culture of Care in Schools" you will find I have updated the description of the professional development intervention I facilitate for schools.

Please check out these new additions to my website.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Presenting paper in Denver May 3rd

My New Zealand colleagues and I will be presenting a paper at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in Denver Monday, May 3rd. See the details below.

Creating Peaceful Schools Through a Continuity of Caring Relationships

Schedule Information:

Scheduled Time: Mon, May 3 - 4:05pm - 6:05pm Building/Room: Colorado Convention Center / Room 608
In Session Submission: Expanding the Vision, Theory, and Practice of Peace Education in Diverse Contexts


Tom Cavanagh (Walden University)
Angus Hikairo Macfarlane (University of Waikato)
Ted Glynn (University of Waikato)
Sonja Macfarlane (Ministry of Education in New Zealand)


This project addresses the critical question: How can we make our schools safe? Two fields of student discipline and teacher pedagogy are examined. The impact of disparity is critically reviewed regarding American and New Zealand students who are marginalized, racialized, and minoritized. This paper continues presentations to the Peace Education SIG regarding the evolving theory of a culture of care in schools. The purpose of this study was to expand the theory by investigating the impact of a professional development intervention at a New Zealand high school. Participatory action research was chosen as the research design because it is appropriate regarding social justice issues. One finding centers on building the capacity of students and their teachers to solve problems nonviolently.

Friday, January 15, 2010

New article published

I received word this week that an article I was working on much of last year is being published later this month. My most recent article is titled Restorative Practices in Schools: Breaking the Cycle of Involvement in Child Welfare and Legal Systems. This article was published in the American Humane Society’s Respected journal Protecting Children. If you are interested you can find a copy of the article on my website at

The reference for the article is:
Cavanagh, T. (2010). Restorative practices in schools: Breaking the cycle of student involvement in child welfare and legal systems. Protecting Children, 24(4). 53-60.