To thrive, youth and adults alike need to be loved; to be loved we need to belong. When we belong, we learn to trust, and when we trust we experience our interconnectedness. Educational institutions have significant potential for nurturing cultures of belonging. Yet, in spite of our best efforts, students, educators, and parents often experience school culture as alienating and fear-based so that learning is limited.
In August 2012, seventeen educators from NL were immersed in an innovative, relational professional development experience where they explored how the core principles and practices of restorative justice could impact education. Since then this group, from various K-12 educational contexts (public, independent, and social services) has experienced the realities of nurturing cultures of belonging and well-being amongst colleagues and youth.
Come learn about the foundational elements of the project Relationships First and hear stories of its impact. With your input, we hope to create a clear plan for how to continue the promise of our early experiences.
Dr. Dorothy Vaandering is an assistant professor at MUN’s Faculty of Education. She has been conducting SSHRC funded research on the implementation and sustainability of restorative justice in schools since 2008. Restorative justice in education which has been growing since the 90’s across the country and globe, nurtures the interconnectedness of people with each other and their environments. This results in climates where more meaningful learning experiences, adult and youth interactions, and means for addressing harmful incidents occur.