Middle School Uses Restorative Workshop To Teach Peace

Provided by the Bristol Township School District:

File photo Credit: Tom Sofield/LevittownNow.com

Franklin D. Roosevelt Middle School in Bristol Township has been partnering with the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF) to teach restorative practices that include managing emotions, practicing mindfulness, making amends and forgiveness, building supportive relationships, practicing conflict resolution, and how to become a peacemaker.

The TKF Restorative Workshop is a ten-session curriculum series that sixth grade students participated in once a week for ten weeks in their social studies classes. Seventh grade students participated in the lessons in their health class. The curriculum was designed to meet instructional educational standards for character building, social competence, healthy decision making and personal safety. In 6th grade, the sessions were co-taught by school social worker Dr. Meredith Leach and teacher Heather Foster, and school counselor Shana Almeida and teacher Kristin Retallick. In 7th grade, health teacher Jaclyn Strapple collaborated with the school social worker and school counselor to deliver the lessons.

Lessons focus on implementing positive behaviors, being mindful, connecting actions and feelings, and using restorative methods and vocabulary.

“The lessons support social emotional learning by using vocabulary that is helpful for mindfulness and managing emotions,” said Foster. “By using situations students can relate to and practice the vocabulary, they feel comfortable and secure expressing themselves. They start sharing stories, realize they are not alone in their experiences, and show compassion to each other.”

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One of Foster’s favorite lessons focuses on harm. In the lesson, students became aware that ripples are created that can reach many people. The impacts and consequences of harm or “ripples” does not only affect the student at the moment. The harm or conflict “ripples” and impacts peers, teachers, families and others. Foster says that students need to understand the effects their actions and behavior may cause.

Ultimately, TKF’s main goal is for students to be peacemakers. To be a peacemaker, students use restorative practices to mediate conflict, reduce harm and learn from their mistakes.

“Problems will always come up in students’ lives and we want them to respond as peacemakers,” said Foster.

FDR initially began partnering with TKF before the pandemic and when COVID hit, TKF made the lessons more virtual-based. They made resources, PowerPoints and other materials available to the teachers.

“TKF is always there whenever we need support,” said Foster.

With her passion for TKF and the positive changes she sees in the students, she hopes the district will increase the frequency of the lessons and provide the students with more consistency using restorative practices.

Credit: Submitted

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