Saturday, December 29, 2012

Being "Happy" in school

The movie Happy is receiving acclaim. After watching the movie I was reminded about the article I had published title Schooling for Happiness.
Cavanagh, T. (2008). Schooling for happiness: Rethinking the aims of education. Kairaranga, 9(1). 20-23.
If you would like to read this article, please email me at,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

One response to the tragedy of last Friday is for educators to make certain every student has at least one adult in the school they would come to with a personal problem. First, I ask school leaders to make up a list of students and to circulate that list to every adult in the school, asking them to put a check mark next to the name of any student with whom they have a personal relationship such that the student would come to them with a personal problem. Then I ask school leaders to make up a list of all adults working in the school and pass it among the students, asking them to place a check mark next to the name of those people who they consider they have a relationship with such that they would come to them with a personal problem. Any students who do not have a check mark next to their name on the first list or who do not check in names on the second list I ask educators to pair them up with a volunteer adult in the school who will meet with them one on one once a week.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Revamped website up and running

Please find my newly revamped website at this address:

Increased interest since Friday's events

Interest in the work of restorative justice in schools has increased since the events of last Friday. Here is an outline of what I offer schools. Restorative Justice in Schools Educators and policymakers’ interest in Restorative Justice is growing as they learn that the results of zero tolerance policies are not working. In fact, the capacity of students and teachers to respond to wrongdoing and conflict in a nonviolent way is lacking. As a result, some schools have adopted restorative justice practices. However, these practices are generally used outside of the classroom. This training is unique in that it focuses on building the capacity of teachers and students to respond in a caring and peaceful way to wrongdoing and conflict in the classroom. Objective The objective of the restorative practices training being proposed is for the participants in the training to leave with the skills, experience, and resources required to both facilitate and train others in the restorative practices of restorative conferencing, talking circles, and restorative conversations. Goals The goals for this training are to share with participants the basic principles of restorative justice as they apply in an educational setting and how those principles can be put into practice to create a new school culture, particularly with regard to how the school responds to wrongdoing and conflict. Plan The proposed training will be held over four days, which need not be consecutive. The four days would be divided as follows: Day 1: Introduction to restorative justice principles, particularly as applied to educational settings, including a discussion about how these principles are already in place in educational settings. Further discussion about how these principles might be the basis for building the capacity of teachers and students to respond to wrongdoing and conflict nonviolently. Day 2: Restorative conference training, including a discussion of underlying principles and role playing the various roles in this restorative practice. Further discussion about how this practice might be used in educational settings. Day 3: Talking circles/restorative conversations training, including a discussion of underlying principles and role playing the various roles in these restorative practices. Further discussion about how these practices might be used jointly and separately in educational settings. Day 4: Action planning, including a discussion about how the participants will implement what they have learned as facilitators and as trainers in their school and in other educational settings. Further discussion about what resources and support the participants need in order to accomplish their new mission. If you are interested please contact me at 970-672-0213 or email me at

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Reflection on Fulbright experience Recently I was asked to reflect on what I personally gained from my Fulbright experience in New Zealand. I responded to the effect: I learned about the importance of whakawhanaungatange (building relationships) that are maaakitanga (caring), in a spirit of whakaiti (humility), based on aroha (love. Those ideas have become the basis of my work. I am grateful to my Maori colleagues for all they taught me.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Update on current work

This school year I am continuing the Culture of Care research and professional development project at a Denver, Colorado, area high school. What I have noted is that the restorative justice training I created and facilitated at the end of the last school year has gained momentum, particularly with Hispanic parents. That training was designed to give administrators, teachers and parents the knowledge, resources, and skills they needed to train others in their school communities. This year some of those who were trained are now offering this training to others. In fact, we have received approval for teachers to receive credit for participation that goes toward relicensure. And not only are administrators, teachers, and parents involved, also community members are participating in the training. Hispanic parents seem to appreciate how this training differs from other restorative justice training in schools in that it focused on reducing referrals by building the capacity of teachers and students to respond to wrongdoing and conflict in the classroom in a way that promotes caring and peaceful relationships.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New book Chapter

My new book chapter has been published. It is titled, Creating Peaceful and Nonviolent Schools in the Midst of a Culture of War and Violence. This chapter appears in the book Educating for Peace in a Time of "permanent War": Are Schools Part of the Solution or the Problem?, edited by Paul R. Carr and Brad J. Porfilio. This book is part of the Routledge Research in Education series, number 79. The abstract for the chapter reads: Whereas Western countries appear to be continuously involved in war on a collective level and engaged in more violent activity on a personal level, schools seem to be mirroring these same trends. Yet, there is an alternative approach to schooling educators can adopt focusing on peace and nonviolence. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in schools in the US and New Zealand, the author expands the analysis of collected data through the lens of restorative justice theory, focusing on typologies typical of the dominant Western culture. Based on this analysis, findings are constructed so as to offer schools a way to create an alternative culture of peace and nonviolence grounded in the restorative justice-based idea of peacemaking.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

New training for educators

I have created a new training for educators titled: Restorative Justice in Schools: Using Restorative Practices to Support a Culture of Care. This four day intensive professional development training covers these major themes: Day 1 - Building and maintaining relationships Day 2 - Learning about Restorative Conversations, Community Circles, and Talking Circles Day 3 - Learning about Restorative Conversations Day 4 - Creating an action plan The training is designed to be a training the trainer process. All of the resources needed to not only facilitate a wide range of restorative practices in schools but to train others to do the same are provided. At the end of the course participants will have the skills, experience, competence, and confidence to not only facilitate restorative practices in schools but to also tain others to do likewise. The program is designed for 10-15 participants. However, provisions can be made for more participants on a case-by-case basis. If you are interested in this new professional development training, please contact Dr Tom Cavanagh at 970-672-0213 or