Giving Compass’ Take:
• Ananya Garg at YES! Magazine reports on new teaching methods that focus on building up students from all backgrounds and cultures and undoing generations of discrimination and erasure.
• How can teachers be better empowered to include all of their students? How can curriculum be designed to foster inclusion?
High school students enter a classroom at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle on an October morning. They sit at their desks, but they’re soon asked to rearrange their chairs into a circle. Today is Thursday, which means they’ll be having their weekly class in restorative justice.
James Williams, the teacher, leads the students in a warmup game: the students pair off and play rock, paper, scissors—except when one student wins, the other becomes their cheerleader. This repeats through several rounds until teams of students are cheering on their classmates in a final championship bout.
Afterward, the students gather in a circle for conversation, passing around a talking piece—a small object like an animal figure or a bottle of essential oil—to focus everyone’s attention on the speaker.
“Who do you respect?” Williams asks to begin the conversation.
“My parents,” “my sister,” “my best friend” come the responses.
“Who do you know that respects you?” Williams asks his next question.
“My younger brother,” one student says. “My friends,” says another.
This leads into a conversation about respect—in the circle, among friends and families, and in the community—and why it’s important, and how it can be lost and earned.
What Williams, the restorative justice coordinator at the school, is doing in the classroom aligns with an educational theory gaining traction in schools across the country.
Read the full article about sustaining students’ cultures by Ananya Garg at YES! Magazine.
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