We get asked to “do” Restorative Workshops (RW) quite often when we are on-site training folks. What strikes us is the power often found in the simplest exchanges. We were working with some eighth grade boys during a lunch time RW. One boy answered the first question by deflecting the blame to others. When asked, “What happened?” he answered by stating that he didn’t know what the big deal was; he was just talking to his friends in class.
With each subsequent question, he thought a little more deeply. By the time we got to the final question, “What do you need to do to make things right?” he was ready to own and recognize the behavior and recommend a strategy to make the situation right. He stated, “I think that I am talking to my friends during class because I’m sitting very close to them, and it’s hard for me not to talk. I need to ask the teacher for a seating change so I can focus on my work.” We then asked him if he would like some assistance in working with the teacher to move his seat, and he indicated he would.
This is the power of Restorative Workshop; we would argue (and do!) that this student would not have reflected on the behavior in a typical detention setting.