Saturday, December 14, 2013

Reaction to gun violence at Arapahoe High School in Colorado

This morning I am reflecting on the gun violence that occurred at Arapahoe High School in Colorado yesterday. As many of you know my home is in Colorado. Also most of my work involving the Culture of Care and Restorative Justice is occurring in Aurora Public Schools. This school district is also located in the Denver Metropolitan Area, just as Arapahoe High School is. I suggest that there are two lessons we have learned from creating a Culture of Care at Hinkley High School that can help us create safe and peaceful schools.
First, we need to provide a safe place for students to express their emotions, particularly when they are angry. At present we do not provide this safe place. At Hinkley this safe place occurs in the talking circles that occur regularly in classrooms and throughout the school.
Second, we need to build the capacity of students to respond to problems and conflict non violently. At Hinkley students are learning there are peaceful alternatives to responding to wrongdoing and conflict with violence.
If schools adopt restorative justice practices in the classroom as a basis for creating a culture of care, these schools will be peaceful and safe.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gallup poll results support Culture of Care

A recent Gallup poll asked participants to call to mind the name of their best teacher. Then they were asked to think of the one word that best described that teacher. What do you suppose was the most common descriptor?


Nice try, but guess again.

The most common word to describe the best teachers was… caring.

Uh oh. Caring is one of those fuzzy, cuddly terms that makes some people – at least guys like me – squirm a bit. I squirm because caring is a word that lays a claim on me. A person can be brilliant, demanding or passionate about their work; but none of those words requires attentiveness to the needs, hopes, and fears of the people around me. But caring lays claim to my time, energy, and heart. And as any teacher – or parent – worth her salt can tell you, caring looks a little different for each recipient.

For the eager, caring looks like a challenge.
For the lazy, a prod.
For the procrastinator, a deadline.
For the panicked, an extension.
For the discouraged, a pep talk.
For the lonely and ignored, an ear.
For the anxious, perspective.
For the proud, gentle questions that identify insecurities and instill self-awareness and a desire for support.
For the slower learner, a lunch hour lost – never lost, just repurposed – to reteach.
For the confused and fearful, a voice of encouragement, “This is the way; walk in it.”