The goal of the National Center for Urban Education (NCUE) is to continue Illinois State University’s rich history of teacher education through a focus on social justice and community-based partnerships. This has been achieved through student and mentor teacher exposure to urban settings through various culturally relevant professional developments. Often at professional developments, participants have expressed a desire to share the information with colleagues. As a result, NCUE has decided to offer workshop series on various topics.
First up is Restorative Practices. “Surviving to Thriving: Cultivating Culturally Responsive Restorative Practices in the Classroom” is designed for practicing educators interested in implementing culturally responsive restorative practices in their classrooms. Through this six-week workshop, educators examine applications for restorative practices; deepening understandings for aligning practice with community values; examining how neuroscience impacts learning and relationships; and, interrogating their positionality and identities.
Restorative justice is not new to specific cultures as a practice. Slightly different from restorative justice, restorative practice shows how to strengthen relationships between individuals and social connections within communities. It originated in and includes restorative justice, a way of looking at justice that emphasizes repairing the harm done to people and relationships, rather than only punishing offenders. Restorative practice is important to the classroom in order for educators to understand the benefits of relationship and community building with their students. Through these trusting relationships, educators and students feel a sense of responsibility to ensure everyone feels they belong to an open and trusting classroom community.
Restorative Practices is mainly known for its listening circles, which date back to indigenous and African tribes, this age old practice has been known to build, maintain, and heal communities of people. Once SB100 (now known as Public Act 99-456) was introduced to the Illinois school system in 2015, restorative justice was used in several Illinois school districts as a form of student behavior intervention. While restorative justice is widely accepted by school districts as a form of student discipline to align with the policies of the newly formed public act, educators, and some administrators were not sure how to use this new form of student behavior intervention successfully.
During the summer of 2019, the College of Education’s Diversity Education committee, led by co-chairs Dr. Becky Beucher and Dr. Lucille Eckrich, piloted a College of Education-wide initiative in Restorative Practices. NCUE participated in four training sessions on campus including “Restorative Practices and Using Circles Effectively” and “Facilitating Restorative Justice Conferences.” These all-day sessions were facilitated by restorative practices expert Kevin Jones from the International Institute for Restorative Practices. With this knowledge under their tool belt, NCUE staff and community-based organization liaisons presented various professional development workshops to Illinois State pre-service student teachers with a culturally responsive lens. Through this training and the implementing of these workshops, NCUE thought this information was valuable to future educators in an urban education setting but thought some of the material lacked important cultural factions that are so important when entering the classroom. With this idea in mind, NCUE collaborated with Kevin Jones again to create a “train the trainer” workshop dealing specifically with taking the material and skills learned during the initial training and use it toward understanding how it can be used to train teachers on how to use restorative practices in their classrooms using a critical cultural perspective.
Through this work, Beucher, Jen O’Malley and Apryl Riley created this first set of workshops in this series that invites educators to train in this work for use in their classrooms. Weekly topics help educators learn and discuss topics specific to the K-12 classroom and assist them with working through their own identity as a teacher and a restorative practice facilitator in their own classroom. These weekly workshops begin Tuesday, September 21. If you are interested, please register today! For registration, sign up here. This course is eligible for 15 PD hours toward an educator’s licensure renewal.