One of the most important things to teach, when teaching people about Restorative Justice Circles, is structured silence. AND doing this has to be both delicate and deliberate. When you role model vs direct, inform, tell people how to behave, you have them learn for themselves. This takes a deliberate and dedicated embrace of equality. There are skills, activities, techniques, to bring youth in Circle to the respect of listening one at a time. This is where empathy develops, an equal exchange and balance of voices in the room.
Being dedicated to Restorative Justice, means avoiding shortcuts, or developing routines, it means continuous exploration of the meaning and purpose of Restorative Justice values. Each case is unique and should be treated as such. For example, victims should be given the choice of being seated in the room, or walking in the room where the person who caused harm is seated. All sorts of responses from this evolve, however the CHOICE is empowering. Question yourself, discuss with a mentor.
Being delicate, deliberate and dedicated doesnâ€™t mean without strength. One teacher, who uses Circle soooo effectively, kept a Circle for students (sheâ€™s a pro, doing at least 2 a day in her classroom). A co-worker, new to the process, experienced a Circle with her, and when it was done, the new coworker said â€œWOW, I didnâ€™t know you were so powerfulâ€, the teacher: â€œitâ€™s not me, it is the Circleâ€.
Where are you most delicate? Where could you be more so? What are you very deliberate about, what could you do more intentionally? Thinking of these questions, will show your dedication to effective Restorative Justice practice.
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