Beginning the first Monday of October, New Jersey schools celebrate “The Week of Respect.” Character building lessons, anti-bullying messages, respect and responsibility are stressed throughout the week.
In July, I wrote about the master’s program I have begun. It is in Restorative Practices. The motto of the International Institute for Restorative Practices is, “Restoring Community in a Disconnected World.”
The fundamental premise of restorative practices is that people are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them. (IIRP)
I have been using restorative practices on a daily basis in my classroom for years, not even realizing that what I was doing had a “title.” I think any good teacher does this. We stress that everyone has value. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and everyone in turn should be respectful to others. The Golden Rule – “treat others the way you wish to be treated.” It is so simple.
When I hear about these mass shootings, like Newtown and the most recent last week in Oregon, I wonder just what brought a child to that breaking point. What did they not get in those precious, developmental years that got them to that point. That place where they felt that they had no one to turn to. A place where they didn’t feel valuable and felt that the whole world was against them.
No one will ever know what was going through the minds of the shooters, but if we can start at even the earliest ages, like I am in Kindergarten, and stress just how important and respected every person is and how valuable they are to society, maybe we can steer them in another direction and cut these behaviors off before they can ever escalate to such a level.
Listen to your words. Love deeply and speak kindly because words have immense power.