See and Be Seen

Restorative circle at a Brooklyn HS. Photo © Carolina Kroon


Dionne Grayman, a Morningside Center staff developer, shares a brief moment in an NYC classroom where she is introducing community-building circles through our Restore 360 Program. One first step for each circle group is to come up with a “community agreement” about how everyone will treat each other.
 

 
I was in a circle with a group of young men, one of whom was a struggling reader.

The circle keeper/coach called on the student to read aloud the community agreements the group had come up with. He shared with the group that he was doing so in order to give their fellow classmate an opportunity to practice and strengthen his skills in an area where he was struggling. The coach asked the student if he understood why he was "being put on the spot." The student nodded yes. 

I sat tensed as the student stood and began to read hesitantly and yet confidently. He stumbled on a few words, repeated the correct pronunciations his classmates offered, and completed the entire list. When he finished, he sat down, staring straight at the coach.

The class, unprompted, began to applaud his efforts. The coach nodded and clapped along with his students. The young man smiled in accomplishment and appreciation. I tried my best not to cry.

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