Restorative Circles at IDEA Bluff Springs
At IDEA, we support the development of the whole child including emotional and physical health and wellness. To this end, we believe that positive relationships are essential to building community and give a person, or student, a breakthrough in making a change. We all have relationships with our family, friends, teachers and those we associate with. It’s impossible to go through life without a relationship with one other person. Sometimes they can be healthy and not so healthy.
At IDEA Bluff Springs, a college preparatory teacher found positive relationships to be so critical for his students that he created a dedicated time to build them. He calls them Restorative Circles and he built them on Restorative Justice.
“Restorative Justice is based on principles and processes that emphasize the importance of positive relationships as central to building community and repairing relationships,” said Frankie Mendoza, Founding IDEA Bluff Springs College Preparatory Teacher. “The underlying premise of Restorative Justice is that people are happier, more cooperative, more 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.”
Students will often join these Restorative Justice Circles so they can solve problems and bond together as a team and family. During Restorative Justice Circles, students take turns holding a baton and passing it around the circle. Whoever holds the baton is the only one permitted to talk. Discussions typically pertain to feelings, opinions, and expression. Students ask each other questions, and the goal is to speak both openly and without judgement.
“The circle process provides a way to bring people together,” says Mendoza. “Everyone is respected and gets a chance to talk without interruption. Participants explain themselves by telling their stories. Everyone is equal—no person is more important than anyone else. Emotional aspects of individual experiences are welcome.”
At IDEA, we believe in having the Team and Family relationship with scholars and families. Mendoza believes Restorative Circles have led him to enjoy his job more, attain academic goals and 100% homeroom scholar and family persistence.
Since Mendoza begin working at IDEA in August of 2016, he has not missed a day of work. Using restorative circles have also allowed his homeroom to achieve 100% perfect attendance for an entire month.