We recognize that all children have the right to an equitable education and we know this requires that we recognize and dismantle systems of bias that grant privilege to some and unjustly oppress others. Our learning environments should be a place where all children can learn, feel valued, feel heard and learn how to treat each other with fairness and respect, this is what our 100% Respect Campaign will create. Our youth deserve respect too.
We will embrace our human differences and celebrate these differences rather than fear these differences. We will value the whole child and we will respect their diversity, chosen identity, chosen pronouns, and value each of their strengths and encourage their self-worth, inquisitive nature and support each child by meeting them where they are while looking at the whole child.
As part of the learning process, your students will be exposed to a variety of ideas, beliefs, and opinions. Some material may cause tensions to arise between students who hold opposing views. While it may seem easier to avoid them, exploring deeply divisive topics restoratively and with an inquisitive approach in the classroom allows students to think critically, examine their own beliefs, and learn to respectfully communicate with those who hold differing opinions.
- Provide opportunities for students to share their own experiences and prespectives respectfully.
- Provide opportunities for students to get to know one another.
- Include in your classroom discussions various prespectives.
- Get to know your students.
- Respect diverse people. Even if some students appear not to be of a different culture you should not assume they are not culturally different. We have diversity in Vermont.
- Repect diverse talents and ideas.
Classroom Agreements are great for restorative conversations
At the beginning of the term, work with your students to develop a “code of conduct” or discussion/agreement guidelines.
- Before the class meeting, make a list for yourself of the behaviors and expectations you have for discussions.
- During class, put your students into small groups of 3 – 5 (if feasible for your course) and ask them to brainstorm discussion behaviors that will support the learning process and those that will detract. Use some of the behaviors from your list as examples.
- Bring the class together and ask each group to share their top items while you add them to a list on the board.
- Work with the class to select the guidelines/agreements or code that the class will follow (use your own list as a guide).
- Use the same process to determine sanctions for violations of the rules but include youth voice in what these sanctions will look like. Students tend to want harsher penalties than you would want to enforce, so be prepared to negotiate on this.
When the class is about to engage in difficult dialogue, remind everyone of the rules that were created by the class with class input.