On Thursday, August 24th, UP Executive Director Lindsey Halman and Youth Facilitators Auishma Pradhan (11th grade, South Burlington High School), Adrianna Corbett (9th grade, Montpelier High School), and Ana Lindert-Boyes (sophomore, Boston University) facilitated  a webinar titled “Using Restorative Practices to Build Positive School Culture and Climate.” The attendees of the session hailed from many different places around the country and the world, including Vermont, New Mexico, Illinois, California, Alberta, Canada, and the United Kingdom! 

The facilitators kicked off the webinar by sharing their “why,” their strong beliefs about how restorative practices can elevate all voices and build community in schools. They then led participants in an exercise about core assumptions of restorative practice and brain based research. Each member of the group placed a star by those that resonated with them the most. Some of the assumptions were, “collaborative decision making is valuable,” and “everyone is innately good and capable of change.” The facilitators then asked participants to reflect on restorative practices in their own school community, having them place themselves on a spectrum of “we do this well”, “we do this, but it could be improved or strengthened,” and “we do not currently do this.” After this activity, they joined small break-out rooms to discuss the successes and challenges of implementing restorative practices in their individual schools. 

Once the full group came back together, the youth facilitators led them in an activity called “I Matter,” where participants are asked to recall a time when a decision that would directly impact them was made without taking into account any of their input, knowledge, or expertise, and to think of the feelings that situation provoked. Then, they were asked to think of a time when their input about a decision that would directly impact them was actively sought, and what feelings that experience provoked. Some of the words the attendees shared were “engaged,” “honored,” “inspired,” and “valued.” This activity serves as a powerful reminder that the human desire to feel valued and have a sense that they matter in the world is universal and cross-generational.  It is the essence of why the youth-adult partnership paradigm shift is so powerful and needed and demonstrates the importance of including all people in a school community, whether youth or adult, in decision-making, a fundamental aspect of restorative practice.  

We are so grateful to the participants of our first Restorative Practices webinar of the year, and look forward to our next one, scheduled Wednesday, September 20th, which will focus on restorative practices as well as an introduction to youth-adult partnerships. To register, click here!