A Binghamton Schools administrator has written a book about a practice that looks to deter discipline problems before they begin.
John Whalen is a former teacher and is now the Restorative Practices Coordinator for the district.
Restorative Practices is a philosophy that focuses on building positive relationships between students and between students and teachers.
The goal is that through greater understanding of each other, students and teachers can better navigate conflict and confrontation when it arises.
A chief means of achieving this is through something called classroom circle in which the participants engage in an open conversation about a variety of topics such as their favorite drink or what they think of winter.
Whalen says he typically starts each circle with 7 to 10 questions to ask but prefers to go with the flow. “You never know what’s going to come out during a circle. It’s not scripted. The questions I have, sometimes I go off of them, just based on what’s brought up. But, sometimes things do come up in a circle that gives us as educators the idea that this is something we need to talk further about.”
Whalen says another goal is to teach accountability for one’s actions.
He has written a book titled “Classroom Circles” that is available online.
It’s designed mainly for fellow teachers and recounts his experiences, tools for building circles and some sample scripts to get started.
Whalen has brought restorative practices to schools across the country, leading over 700 classroom circles over the past 4 years.