Monday, December 28, 2015

Facebook page for "Restorative Justice Education"

A new Facebook page was created for the nonprofit organization "Restorative Justice Education." This nonprofit was created for the purposes of supporting the work I do using restorative justice practices and principles to create a Culture of Care in schools.

If you use Facebook, I invite you to visit the "Restorative Justice Education" page, "like" it, and leave a "comment." I also invite you to request that we be "friends" on Facebook.

Thank you for your kind consideration.

Dr Tom Cavanagh

Friday, December 11, 2015

Truancy - the problem and solutions

Truancy is one of the issues involved in the school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately affects children of color. In our work at the pilot high school near Denver we found that in creating a Culture of Care based on restorative justice principles and practices truancy became a non-issue because these high school aged children wanted to be in school. In fact, one teacher said that the issue of students who generally were truant and were now coming to class was the new problem because she did not know how to teach them. My reply was - isn't that a wonderful problem?

So here is a graphic display of the problem:

I hope this graphic helps to explain the issue.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

New York City Teachers Union Supports Restorative Justice

The New York City Teachers Union Calls for Investment in Restorative Justice on the image to the left to watch a powerful video produced by Teachers Unite, or TU, which includes NYC teachers and students who are calling upon policymakers and advocates to invest in restorative justice in public schools. Help us to increase awareness about this effort by sharing this video with your networks. Use the hashtag: #investinschoolsnotpolice and spread the word! TU Executive Director, Sally Lee, also wrote a piece on police in schools that was featured in the Huffington Post. Read more (

Friday, November 20, 2015

Learn how to facilitate RJ in College Student Misconduct Settings

The Skidmore College
Project on Restorative Justice
Campus Restorative Justice
Facilitator Training 
Restorative Justice for College Student Misconduct
April 11-13, 2016
Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY
Learn more about the Campus RJ Training conference
In this intensive training, you will gain a thorough understanding of restorative justice principles and practices, practical information about program implementation, and the satisfaction of having participated in a powerful training experience.
Open to student affairs administrators, faculty, students, and other staff interested in implementing restorative justice on their campuses.
  • Develop an understanding of the philosophy and principles of RJ
  • Gain familiarity with RJ practices and their application in campus conduct
  • Apply RJ practices to campus climate issues and residential life community-building
  • Acquire strong RJ process facilitation skills
  • Understand the relationship between RJ and the "model code"
  • Learn about the effectiveness of RJ practices based on current research
  • Explore practical "next steps" in implementing RJ in a campus community

Monday, November 9, 2015

Lectureship in Restorative Justice

Professor Christ Marshall, a colleague and friend at the University of Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand, recently sent out this announcement for a lectureship in restorative justice at the university.

Here is the link to more information about the opportunity.

Hinkley High School Principal Shared Video of Circle

Hinkley High School Principal Matthew Willis recently shared this video of a circle with me. This is the explanation he wrote accompanying the video.

This was an important Restorative Circle because we took the time to develop the ideals and values of community.  A community does not ignore things when they happen.  They address then to move forward.  Our community cannot accept violence, misconduct, or inadequate academic achievement as the standard.  We must develop a Culture of Care, based a relationships, that address our actions as a community.  Hook (2003) writes, "Community is the coming together of a group of individuals who have learned how to communicate honestly with each other; whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to rejoice together, morn together, and to delight in each other and make the conditions of others our own" (p. 196, emphasis added).  So often we forget the importance of developing community, relationships, and our commitments to each other.  Yet, without relationships built on the ideals of community, we miss the point. 

I have seen many of you beginning to use the Community Circle approach to develop STRONG relationships and develop a community within your classrooms.  Some circles address harm, as in this video, while others develop strong relationships, a Culture of Care, safe educational environment, shared learning, and even secret celebratory codes.  The evidence is mounting that schools that engage in Restorative Practices WILL change their disciplinary and academic outcomes.

Please continue to demonstrate the importance of community as we leverage our Culture of Care to maximize the potential of every student in our school.  If you are still unsure about the power of Restorative Practices (relationship building circles and conferences, co-created norms, ...) in the classroom then I would check out the following teachers:  Berberich, Bicknase, Thompson, Lebsack.  I've seen each of these teachers in action using restorative practices and circles to enhance their educational environment.

Also, if you use the community circle or restorative practices approach in your classroom, please invite me into see your intentional approach or even support you with approximation.  I'd love to document your initiative and add you to my list.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Saturday, August 8, 2015

RJ at Hinkley High School featured in Nick News

On August 1st Hinkley High School, where we introduced restorative justice four years ago, was featured on Nick News. You can watch this excellent video at this link.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lecture about examples of schools using restorative justice

In this talk I recorded at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, I describe some examples of how schools have used restorative justice practices and principles.

Lecture about Core Principles and Values of Restorative Justice

I recently recorded a talk about the core principles and values of restorative justice for postgraduate students at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Here are the links to that talk. It is divided into two parts.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Daybreak report - the founding document for our work in restorative justice

I learned recently that the founding document for our work in restorative justice is not available in PDF format online at this link. Puao-Te-Ata-Tu, the Daybreak report, is the report I look to as the beginning of our work.

I am please to know this rich resource is now available online and to share it with you. It outlines the thoughts of respected Maori elders in the late 1980s about how government agencies in New Zealand should work with Maori to respond to issues common to both. The practice known as Family Group Conferencing grew out of this report and led to what we now know as restorative justice.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Video of Dr Cavanagh Talking About Underlying Philosophy of Culture of Care

In this video Dr Cavanagh talks about the underlying ideas for a Culture of Care based on restorative justice principles and practices.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Dr Cavanagh's lecture on the importance of relationships in restorative justice work

A Lecture delivered by Dr Tom Cavanagh at the University of Canterbury as part of his Visiting Maori and Indigenous Studies Fellowship sponsored by the Erskine Foundation. This lecture focused on the importance of relationships in the work of restorative justice.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Beginning Visiting Maori and Indigenous Studies Fellowship

Today, Monday, February 23, 2015, I began the Visiting Maori and Indigenous Studies Fellowship at the University of Canterbury. My wife Monica and I were warmly greeted at a mihi whakatau. We were represented by Professor Ted Glynn, who koreroed on our behalf. We are most grateful to Professor Angus Macfarlane and to the Erskine Foundation for making this fellowship possible.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Update on pilot project

Here is the latest update from the principal of the high school where we conducted the Culture of Care pilot project for three years.

We were one year off in our predictions about college by leveraging the Culture of Care.  This year's senior class has been accepted to more colleges and had more families attend college application nights and FASFA night than EVER.  When the year is complete, the Culture of Care is really taking off by improving educational outcomes.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Fellowship in New Zealand

I am sharing with you information about the fellowship I will be on in New Zealand. I am leaving on Monday, February 9th, and returning on Tuesday, April 18th. Here is the announcement about the fellowship at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Maori & Indigenous Studies Fellowship
16 February 2015

Kia ora colleagues

The UC Erskine Programme Office, in conjunction with the Assistant Vice-Chancellor Māori and the Pro Vice-Chancellor Education, is this year facilitating the inaugural Māori and Indigenous Studies Fellowship. The Research Fellow for 2015 is Dr Tom Cavanagh, an Affiliate to the Ethics Studies Faculty at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, as well as Contributing Faculty to Walden University in Minnesota.  Dr Cavanagh is not new to Aotearoa New Zealand, having been a Fulbright Scholar and Senior Research Fellow at Waikato University between 2004 and 2008.  Tom will be on campus at UC from 23 February to 23 April, based in Te Rū Rangahau the Māori Research Laboratory in the Whekī Block. The brief bio attached provides an outline of his skills. His full CV is available on request from Liz Jaganath

The Fellowship is keen to see Toms expertise put to good use and your School/Programme has been identified as one where Tom could make a significant contribution.
Thank you for considering this opportunity and I look forward to a response soon.


Dr Angus Hikairo Macfarlane
Professor of Maori Research

Please find the abstracts for the lectures I will deliver below.

       Public Lecture

    As the population of New Zealand and other countries around the world becomes more diverse, the need to create a culture of care is paramount. No longer can the values and principles of one culture dominate. In order to bridge the cultural gap between the dominant culture of organizations and clients of these organization, a culture of care is needed that focus on the importance of creating and maintaining relationships, built on the principle of respecting the dignity of each person, working together in solidarity to create a new culture in the organization, building the capacity of each person to address problems, and being particularly sensitive to those persons who are minoritized, marginalized, and racialized (Cavanagh, 2009a).
    In this lecture Dr Tom Cavanagh will draw on his experience conducting field research to explain how to create and maintain caring and inclusive relationships by doing the work of organization with clients, adopting culturally appropriate positioning and theorizing about people who are different, and involving everyone on the process. Also important is creating collegial relationships at work through the use of restorative justice tools in order to maintain a healthy community among leaders and staff (Cavanagh, 2007). In particular, restorative conversations will be explained in detail as a method for talking about problems in the workplace (Cavanagh, 2009b). Finally, an explanation will be given about how to use restorative justice principles of building and maintaining relationships and exercising holistic care to create a culture of care (Cavanagh, Macfarlane, A., Glynn, & Macfarlane, S., 2012).
    This lecture was created for an audience of people in the fields of education, social services, and health. Participants will leave the lecture with a deeper understanding of the importance of relationships, knowledge about how to build culturally responsive relationships, and skills to not only create relationships but also how to maintain those relationships when harm occurs by repairing the harm resulting from wrongdoing and conflict.

Cavanagh, T., Macfarlane, A., Glynn, T. & Macfarlane, S. (2012). Creating peaceful and             effective schools through a culture of care. Discourse, 33(3). 443-455.

Cavanagh, T. (2009a). Restorative practices in schools: Breaking the cycle of student      involvement in child welfare and legal systems. Protecting Children, 24(4). 3-60.

Cavanagh, T. (2009b). Creating schools of peace and nonviolence in a time of war and    violence. Journal of School Violence, 8(1), 64-80.      

Cavanagh, T. (2007). Focusing on relationships creates safety in schools. set: Research    Information for Teachers, 1, 31-35.

       Postgraduate research

         Much of the research being conducted today includes people of color as participants.  However, researchers are not taught how to conduct this research that respects the dignity of these participants. Based on personal experience working in the field conducting research with people of color, in this lecture Dr Cavanagh will explain how to include these people in the research, how to be accountable to them, how to legitimate their voices, and finally, how to activate critical race theory through community-based participatory action research.
         In this lecture Dr Tom Cavanagh tells the story of a research and professional development project initiated by university researchers and led by a group of Mexican parents. For purposes of this study these parents and their children were treated as indigenous to the United States. In that way the work of Linda Smith (2012) and Russell Bishop and Ted Glynn (1999) served as the foundation.While their work focuses on conducting research with Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, this story focuses on working with Mexican students and their parents in the United States and specifically in the state of Colorado. In alignment with Smiths work, researchers deliberately conducted themselves in ways that respected the dignity of these students and their parents by meeting with them in person, listening to their stories in a culturally appropriate manner, and assuming a position of humility, that is, learning from them. Drawing on Bishop and Glynns ideas, this project focused on the concerns and interests of these students and their parents. We were determined to have them benefit from the work by representing the reality of their experiences at the participating high school in such a way as to legitimate their voices and to be accountable to them in our work. Ultimately, the goal was to raise the awareness of these students and their parents about their experiences in the school. This story takes place in one large high school in the Denver metropolitan area where the Mexican parents worked to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline by introducing restorative justice practices in classrooms as a way of responding to wrongdoing and conflict. These practices were intended to reduce the number of referrals for disruptive behavior in order to keep these students learning in the classroom and out of the school-to-prison pipeline.
         This lecture is intended for social scientists who are committed to conducting research in a culturally responsive manner. Dr Cavanagh will outline in some detail how the research and professional development project was initiated, how data were collected and from who, how these data were analyzed, how the findings were interpreted and put into action. He will also discuss the role of the cultural consultant. Finally, he will discuss the outcome of this three-year project. The lecture will be accompanied by a paper based on this project (Cavanagh, Vigil, & Garcia (in press).

Bishop, R., & Glynn, T. (1999). Culture counts: Changing power relations in education. Palmerston North, New Zealand: Dunmore Press.

Cavanagh, T., Vigil, P, & Garcia, E. (2014). A story legitimating the voices of Latino/Hispanic students and their parents: Creating a restorative justice response to wrongdoing and conflict in schools. Equity and Excellence in Education, 47(4), 565-579. doi: 10.1080/10665684.2014.958966

Smith, L. T. (2005). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples (2d ed.).
            London, England: Zed Books.