Here are two brief excerpts from an article by Sara K. Satullo that appeared last Friday, February 3 in the Easton Express-Times:

Bethlehem Area Social Studies teacher Joanne Widdersheim gathered 10th-graders in a circle Friday.

She tasked them with revisiting a question she posed to them at the start of the semester: Where do you want to be in 30 years?

Students had a few minutes to draft a Time magazine cover with a witty slogan. Widdersheim teased students, pressed them to work faster and knew when to lay off when a shy student needed more time. She also had them laughing hard.

“That wasn’t a show,” Liberty Assistant Principal Nikolas Tsamoutalidis said of the teachers. “That’s just how they are.”

A group of Philadelphia educators and students spent Friday at Liberty and Freedom high schools learning about the school’s rollout of buildingwide culture changes.


Students from Kensington joined a circle discussion in Jeremy Shuler’s class where students were learning about the Great Depression and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency.

Shuler passed a ball around in the circle asking students to share their greatest fear and then to ruminate on Roosevelt’s famous words, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Circles are often used to build community and emotional bonds in the program. They are meant to be a safe place for everyone to share his or her thoughts where everyone’s thoughts are equally important.

The full article can be found here.

Photo by Benjamin Herold for the Notebook and WHYY/NewsWorksIIRP is headquartered in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where the school district is engaged in implementing IIRP's Whole School Change Program. I've previously blogged about this project here.

I'd note that a movement is growing in the City of Philadelphia to implement restorative practices in the schools. This movement parallels ongoing grassroots efforts to improve Philadelphia's schools, particularly for minorities, and to end violence as well as what advocates term "school pushout".

Note, too, a photograph from Philadelphia from a recent School Reform Committee meeting...   "The audience sat in a circle, with District staff and SRC members scattered throughout." Full article here.

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