Restorative Justice Stories, Activities, and Tips to help your Classroom
Community-building activity: Create collective classroom values and make a visual Y chart
Instead of posting YOUR “classroom expectations,” involve students in creating classroom values TOGETHER.
Ask students to pause for a moment and imagine an ideal, or peaceful, or safe, or positive classroom. Then ask then think about what that looks like. What do they see in the classroom? What does the room look like? What are people doing? You might even give them a chance to draw this out. Then give each student the opportunity to share some of his or her ideas. As the students are sharing, write their ideas on the board. Be sure to acknowledge and validate each student’s contribution. Repeat this process, asking students to now imagine what the classroom would sound like, and finally what it feels like. At the end you will have three lists displayed. Ask the students to look them over and to add anything they feel is missing.
After you have a complete list of what a peaceful classroom looks, sounds and feels like. Create a Y chart and write at the top of OUR CLASSROOM and in each trident write one of the following: Looks, Sounds, and Feels and add the corresponding list that the students complied. At the bottom leave a large space for the students to sign, initial, stamp, or decorate. The key is for them to make it their own.
Once it’s created, make sure it is displayed predominately and refer to it often. Have a weekly community meeting to discuss the classroom. How have we been doing upholding this agreement? Classroom values need to be re-visited often in order to maintain their relevance.
Stories from Coaches
“Last school year, I worked with a 7th-grade teacher and her class to set class values. Each student had the opportunity to answer the question, “What quality do you need from your classmates in order to get along?” The six values that the class agreed on were: Teamwork, Respect, Responsibility, Honesty, Understanding, and Knowing When To Stop. In coming to agreement on these values, students had the opportunity to ask questions or bring up concerns. Several students expressed concern that if they agreed to group values, they would not be able to be themselves as individuals. The group then addressed the question, “How can we remain, individuals, while agreeing on values about how we treat each other?” Students came to the conclusion that they could agree to the values, and still be individuals in how they express themselves and in the particular ways they show their values. The teacher and I then made a plan for her to have weekly check-ins with the class about how they are doing with the values, focusing on a different value each week. When we take the time to set values and processes to uphold those values, we create a collaborative environment in which every person in the class community sees themselves as a crucial part of the classroom culture.”
-Mary Cait Walthall, Restorative Practices Coach