Colleagues

The ability for each member to value all other team members, despite their differences, is the bedrock upon which a solid team is built. Embracing restorative justice as a whole school initiative will help colleagues recognize each member as worthy contributors. Through a restorative justice lens we can learn to circumvent our negative reaction to difference. When we are faced with a colleague whose opinions, actions and practices conflict with our own, we can learn to become more accepting. We can be taught to reflect and think these key questions:EDUC 6936 MIXED FINAL

  • Am I honouring?
  • Am I measuring?
  • What message am I sending?

Keeping these three simple questions in mind when we are interacting with colleagues will encourage us to be our best self and take responsibility for our actions rather than resort to blaming. When each member of a team is actively being their best, harmony is more readily achieved.

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The relationships we are engaged in with our colleagues will set the tone for our work environment. However, conflict and personal struggles are a part of the human condition. If discord exists among two or more colleagues, it will inevitably be felt by the whole team. Considering the range of personalities and backgrounds which come together to create a complete school faculty, it is unlikely all members will harmonize unconsciously. The solution to this difficulty is not to create a homogeneous grouping; rather the solution lies in acceptance. We should encourage members to accept their differences through active intervention strategies. Diverse groups of people are known to create the most productive and effective teams. Thus, fostering harmony will lead to a stronger faculty.

In instances where harm has occurred among members of a team, overcoming the incident and achieving harmony requires effort. After an altercation among colleagues, all parties involved can be helped by simply being offered an opportunity to be heard. Through a formal talking circle, members can come to see each other as worthy and they can find a way to repair the damage, which was caused. Leaders lead well when they provide the space for this to occur. During a talking circle affected parties are asked the following restorative justice questions:

  • What happened?
  • What were/are you thinking?
  • What were/are you feeling?
  • What’s been the hardest thing for you?
  • Who has been impacted? How?
  • What do you need [to do] in order to go on?

The answer to the final question “What do you need in order to go on” provides a next step for healing. This step varies greatly depending upon the harm experienced. Parties tend to leave a talking circle feeling a sense of resolution and the ability to put the harm behind them in order to begin to heal the relationship that was damaged.

The ideas expressed here are simply beginning ideas for understanding the different relationships we have with our self and others. Relationships are very complex and many of the intricacies that make up our relationships require deep personal reflection to be understood. This can be accomplished through work with restorative justice.

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