RAC Blog

Transition to Virtual Professional Learning

We were scheduled to have our third in-person training just five days after the global pandemic was declared. That training, and all in-person trainings following it were, of course, postponed, and later cancelled. If you’d told us then that we’d still be only doing virtual trainings eight months later, I think many of us would have been shocked and skeptical. And yet, here we are.

Over the course of the spring, we hosted several “Our Shared Humanity” gatherings to connect and reflect. We also developed a new resource for remote education.

As the new school year began, we hosted four 2-hour virtual sessions to dig into questions like:

“What does returning to ‘normal’ mean?”

“What are ‘Brave Spaces’?”

“How can we develop our restorative communication skills?”

“How can we utilize systems, data, and practices to make this work sustainable?”

As we finish out our contract work, teams are submitting action plans with items like: “Team members will practice restorative approaches in our classes/programs and serve as a model for our colleagues,” “Provide embedded PD time for small accountability teams. Use monthly learning modules to teach and reinforce skills, support peer learning, personal reflection, trust building, authentic sharing and problem solving,” “Offer staff circles during staff meetings to connect, build community, and improve school climate (safety, trust, and relationships),” and more.

We are proud of the work we have accomplished this year and look forward to seeing the growth and change that schools experience as a result of their Restorative Approaches teams’ hard work.

New Extended School Closures Resource

Members of the Restorative Approaches Collaborative worked together to curate a list of resources and guidance that may be helpful during times of extended school closures. This document is an evolving resource for SU/SD/schools’ restorative approaches and leadership teams. We invite you to compare your SU/SD/school’s approach and resources with what is offered here and make constructive suggestions to your leadership and colleagues.

Our Shared Humanity

Join educators, school leaders, partners and community members every Thursday at 1 p.m. on ZOOM for a 35-40 minute restorative opportunity to pause, reflect and connect.

Attend when you can. No commitment necessary!

Hosted by Annie O’Shaughnessy and other members of the RAC, this shared time will provide a much needed sense of connection and calm.

Each session will include:

  • 5 minute guided mindfulness
  • 5 minute inspirational reading or reflection
  • 15 minutes to connect and share in break-out rooms of 3-4 people
  • 5 minutes for closing and appreciation

Join us every Thursday at 1 PM. It’s free and facilitated by members of Vermont’s own Restorative Approaches Collaborative (www.vtrac.org).

Please register by visiting here.

Visit the link below for sample content:

April 9, 2020: Being truly seen.

April 16, 2020: Riding the waves of darkness and light

April 23, 2020 NO SESSION – Spring Break

April 30, 2020: Adding to the “Love Pile”

If you have any questions, suggestions or would like to host a session contact Annie at annie@truenatureteaching.com.


Second PLC Day a Success!

The Restorative Approaches Collaborative held its second training on December 6th. More than 80 school/SU/SD team members gathered to dive deeper into their work around embedding Restorative Approaches in their schools/SU/SDs.

Participants in each cohort reported out on their work since the October gathering and spent time exploring the P.A.I.R. model (see article on pg. 2 here). Teams also learned from Jon Kidde about implementation science, considered what stage of implementation they are in, and discussed what it would take to move to the next stage. Lindsey Halman and youth from U32 led teams through content and activities to learn about the importance of youth engagement in this (and all!) work. Lastly, participants finished the afternoon in team time to continue action planning.

Again, it was a great day with lots of learning, networking, and productive team time. Here are a few quotes from the feedback:

“A variety of different activities and techniques were used and the information was delivered in a clear, organized manner.”

“I think the most helpful parts were the opportunities to hear from other schools about how they’re implementing RP in their schools and then hearing from facilitators to follow up with additional information based on our conversations.”

“I LOVED having time to meet with the entire district. Great opportunity to connect and make plans together to move forward. A chance to laugh and create. I thought the students were outstanding.”

“Thank you for facilitating the day. At times this feels overwhelming, AND it feels invigorating and hopeful.”

If you’d like to explore the resources from the training, they are available at https://vtrac.org/rac/.

First PLC Day Complete!

On October 17th, the Restorative Approaches Collaborative (RAC) held the first training for the seven school teams and three SU/SDs teams that were selected to be a part of the RA Professional Learning opportunity. Both cohorts met together in the morning to hear an overview of the work, learn a little about the importance of partnering with students to do this work, and hear about the evaluation aspect of this project. Following this, the participants broke off into two cohorts: one for individual school teams and one for SU/SD teams. 

Each group participated in a variety of activities to help them build a foundational knowledge of restorative approaches in schools. After a quick (but yummy) lunch, teams dove into some team time in order to begin building a community amongst team members, along with an action plan for their work throughout the year. 

It was an exciting day with lots of learning, networking, and productive work. The RAC Coordination Team is reviewing feedback from the day in order to make our December training even stronger! Here are a few quotes from the feedback:

“Team time was most helpful. The ability to plan and process with our group, outside of the school building, was impactful and allowed us to focus on crucial items.”

“I think the most important takeaway for me was that RA is so much bigger than circles… It makes the challenge of becoming a truly restorative-practice based school both more daunting and more manageable.”

“I enjoyed hearing from other classroom teachers how their restorative practice in their classroom has grown and shifted as they’ve become more immersed in restorative practices.”

Participants in Day 1 of Professional Learning

If you’d like to explore the resources from the training, they are available at https://vtrac.org/rac/.