OC Human Relations Restorative Justice (RJ) team is widening its net and impacting even more educators by offering training opportunities and presentations to school teachers and staff. As a result an increasing number of educators are including restorative justice practices in their classrooms. Our Schools team director, Julie Vue and sister team (BRIDGES), connected us to two critical opportunities this summer. June 2019 was a busy month, we had (still have) team members working to develop a harms training for administrators, counselors and teacher coaches wanting to more intentionally facilitate dialogue in response to discipline cases (where more holistic support is needed). Team members also spent a lot of time preparing and leading modified trainings for high school students in our BRIDGES Youth Leadership Institute (YLI); this work exposed youth leaders to RJ theory and encouraged them to try on practices in their own school communities.
During this time, RJ team members led a two-day Everyday Community RJ training for School Psychologists in training, Faculty and OCHR interns. Most of those being trained were from Chapman University; our long time partner. All of the participants shared, with their professor (and in post training evaluations) that they were grateful for the practical RJ circle planning time, exposure to great community building activities they could lead with their own students, and videos that solidified why RJ is so impactful for youth in schools. The trainees we’re very open to the experiential learning opportunities throughout the training days, and began to more deeply appreciate each other’s diversity (as peers/colleagues). Additionally, many of them shared reflections around ways they were already thinking they could implement the use of RJ in their schools.
Lastly, one of our team members got the chance to present in an ethnic studies for teachers course at Chapman University (at the end of June 2019). These teachers were in their final semester, getting ready to be in schools fall 2019. They participated in opening and closing circle, and received resources about implementation at one of our school sites. This presentation focused on the theory and mindset necessary for educators to approach their role in the schools they’re about to enter. The professor was grateful and made connections to parts of the class they had explored previously (to what was being presented). One of his students emailed this team member afterwards and asked for book recommendations and resources that would prepare them, more practically, for entering the classroom. This student teacher is preparing to enter an elementary school setting but really saw how RJ could support their community building efforts and social emotional skills building work. All of this work, only in one month, leaves the impression that we have so much potential to impact students, educators and school staff throughout Orange County. This impact goes beyond knowledge sharing, and into knowing that more educators are trying on restorative practices because of the work we’ve done with them. The RJ team has impacted people at various levels and they are not just about “being hope,” but trusting the actions of folks they work with to be more intentional and from equity lens’ than they would have been before.