When we asked members of restorative school communities questions like, “How can we make schools feel safer?” and “How can we make RJ stronger in schools?” or “How can we support youth leadership?,” we heard many concrete, specific ideas about how to change school practice and policy. But we also heard again and again about the importance of exploring those questions within each and every school, in its own unique context. Youth, families, and educators named a desire to build shared understandings (even if not always agreement!) in school communities about difficult topics like safety, racism, identity and belonging, and mental health, among others.
With that in mind, we hope that you will keep the conversation going within YOUR lives: with your schools, families, organizing and community spaces. Because just as the movement for restorative justice must push for institutional change, it is equally important that we strive to deepen, strengthen, and heal relationships — as community building is the foundation of meaningful restorative work.
This Community Conversations Toolkit includes a facilitation guide and ten circle outlines, informed by each of the ten big takeaways from the On Our Terms. We hope that these ten circles, designed to be facilitated in the time it may take to teach a class in New York City Schools, can be a guide to bringing more people into the conversation of what restorative culture can look like, and how we can move towards it together.