15 01, 2019

Coming Soon, Everyday Circle Cards

2021-05-20T17:41:30-04:00January 15th, 2019|Tags: , , , |

What an exciting day! We just received some of our freshly designed Everyday Circle cards and we can’t wait to share them with the world! They are a brand new tool to help teachers who want to do this work but don't know where to start.  We have partnered with two other incredible organizations: Tribes and HEART to create Everyday Circles for teachers to implement SEL, restorative practices, humane education, and more.  There are 180 cards in the deck and each card has everything you need to lead your group through these processes, including images, prompts, and directions for interactive fun. We have had this vision for quite a long time and the stars finally aligned for us to make this happen! We have long thought that the actual work we do isn’t all that complicated but the support that you need to begin and maintain it, often is. Usually, this is a function of the need to change our mindset and learn new ideas incrementally to have time to actually implement and adjust.  All of this requires a lot of teacher training…a luxury many schools and teachers do not have.  So, without a lot of access to teachers, we thought, how can they learn how to do the work at the same time as they are doing it? That is exactly what these cards are designed to do.  If teachers can make a bit of time and commit

17 09, 2018

Impact Story: Intersection of Equity and Restorative Practices

2021-05-20T17:41:33-04:00September 17th, 2018|Tags: , , |

by Kristina Hulvershorn What does restorative practices have to do with equity?  In a word everything. I wanted to share a concept from our restorative practices trainings that might help clarify the connection. Every school and organization has boundaries.  Human beings need and thrive when we know the boundaries and we feel that they are fair.  Every school’s boundaries are slightly different…but almost every school in our geographical region has one thing in common: disproportionate discipline.  We issue harsher punishments on students of color. Specifically, black boys but also on black girls and  latinx boys and girls. But, channeling LeVar Burton, don’t take my word for it. Hit the books. Brilliant scholars have written extensively on this and you can even check out data from individual schools. So, I ask participants to explain what behaviors fall outside of those boundaries of acceptable behavior.  Swearing? Fighting? Disrespect?  Dressing out of uniform? Consider all of the gray areas in each of these categories.  What exactly is a swear word? Is horseplay considered fighting?  As we get in the weeds with that I then ask participants to consider, If behaving, thinking, or acting out of the box is what lands our kids in a realm of harsher discipline or worse, the school to prison pipeline, it’s time to consider the box itself. Specifically Who made that box?  Think about it. Who designed the norms of your school or organization? Let’s go ahead

18 07, 2018

Impact Story: Peacebuilders Camp

2021-05-20T17:41:33-04:00July 18th, 2018|Tags: , , |

by Mame Keita I did not know what I signed up for when I agreed to co-lead with Arianna, one of our amazing interns, a workshop on “Empower for Change” for Girls Rock. Girls Rock is a pretty amazing organization that works with girls age 9 to 16 and empowers them through music. I was super excited to meet all these young girls willing and ready to be leaders in their lives and their communities. Our objective was to help them figure out how to use music or creative expression to tackle issues they were passionate about. We started by gathering everyone in a circle, shared names and favorite artist and played an icebreaker. The campers had fun getting to know each other better and discovering commonalities and differences. Our next step was to brainstorm and share our thoughts on values and on their importance identifying them to be able to create change. The conversations got deeper and more personal. One camper shared kindness was her top value because everyone was so valuable. They had a lot of strong values ranging from family, love, equality, acceptance, kindness and of course, music. With those values firmly in place, we then asked them to think about a problem they would like to tackle. Their awareness and understanding of all societal issues were impressive. They mentioned gun violence, sexual assault, wage inequality, gender inequality and challenging school environment with the new changes

17 05, 2018

Secret of the Troublemakers

2021-05-20T17:41:36-04:00May 17th, 2018|

If you hang out with children or are lucky enough to live with them, you know that they are phenomenal, magical, and powerful.  They are endless wells of compassion and hope…brilliance and creativity.  But sadly, our educational system can dull that shine and dim that light.  Did you ever hear about the kid who thought he could clean the ocean of human-generated garbage? People predictably dismissed and laughed at him.  That kid’s technology is now being deployed and his organization’s website suggests that “Full-scale deployment will remove 50% of the North Pacific gyre debris in 5 years.”  How much waste is that exactly?  Scientifically speaking, it’s a whole lot more than yours or my best ideas would yield. (Check it out at https://www.theoceancleanup.com/) What about the girl who decided to stay seated on the bus before Rosa Parks?  Her name was Claudette Colvin and hers was the case that many say sparked the subsequent actions that propelled the Civil Rights movement. What do these two people have in common?  Plenty.  The part that fascinates me is their willingness to do that thing no one else would do but many knew was needed. They have the ability to stand up and stick out, likely enduring some judgment, if not worse.  They are ahead of their time and are in a category of their own: troublemakers.  These brave and creative folks are who we need to celebrate and allow ourselves to

20 03, 2018

Social Justice Leadership Camp

2023-03-16T13:08:43-04:00March 20th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , |

by Clare Wildhack-Nolan, Director of Social Justice Leadership Camp Register for our 2023 Social Justice Leadership Camp For the past 5 years, March has been the exciting time of year where I begin sharing with the community the opportunity for Indy teens to participate in Social Justice Leadership Camp.  It feels amazing to be able to offer teens the kind of experience that I wished I had had when I was their age. As a teenager in Indianapolis, who already had strong values around human rights and the environment, I was in a constant state of learning and critically analyzing the hypocrisy I felt the adult world dished out. My identity and search for friendships and mentors was tied to my desire to address the pain in the world. Unfortunately, there was not a lot to choose from. Indianapolis was very segregated then as it is now, and I only knew the opportunity my small section offered, and only had those conversations with my classmates and a close knit group of friends. It would have been amazing to have a diverse group of teens from across the city to meet with and hear their perspectives. It would have been amazing to connect with adults who could listen and understand, and encourage me, complicating and connecting the information and experience I was grappling with. In those formative years, it would have been amazing to connect with people who I wouldn't

2 02, 2018

Inside Restorative Practices Training

2021-05-20T17:41:38-04:00February 2nd, 2018|Tags: , |

Participants in Restorative Practices Workshops at Peace Learning Center are asked to dig deep and reflect honestly about how discipline is working (or not working) in their schools or organizations.  One dean comments, "It's a total culture change. Sure, I can keep these kids out for three days, but there's still going to be a problem when they get back so that solution doesn't fix the problem." He goes on to explain that last year his school had 204 suspensions in 180 days of schools and this year they've only had seven suspensions. He explains that he has to be part of a lot of conversations with school staff asking them if their suggested consequence will “fix” the behavior.  That question seems to encourage thought, but when punishment and suspension are the only tool we’ve seen used to address challenging behavior, we need to do what we can to show people that there is an entirely different way of thinking about and responding to these behaviors.  One that not only allows us to get to the root cause of issues, but one that also can help us address disproportionality of discipline on students of color, unhealthy school culture, and the over-reliance of punitive discipline (among others). That is the world of Restorative Practices. Another woman jumps in, catching where he's going with his story, "Punishment doesn't have to be a part of our solution." "Yes," he says, as the rest

17 11, 2017

Inside Implicit Bias Workshops

2021-05-20T17:41:40-04:00November 17th, 2017|Tags: , , |

by Natalie Spriggs, Youth Programs Director Lately, “implicit bias” is a buzz term that has popped up in articles and social media. Most folks know what bias is, but implicit biases are those biases that are hidden; one may not necessarily be aware of. Peace Learning Center has taken on tackling the issues around implicit bias. We have created a 4-Hour long workshop that helps people look inside themselves, figuring out what implicit biases one may have as well as analyzing gatekeepers and how this affects the daily work folks do. Peace Learning Center has led many of these implicit bias workshops with all sorts of people. Of course when something is hidden finding it can always be a challenge. Homework is given before these workshops: the Harvard implicit bias surveys. There are several different ways to uncover implicit bias. This is just one of the ways used to help folks see where some of their implicit bias may lie. It is interesting to me the different reactions people have with the implicit bias test. Most all of the reactions people may experience are perfectly normal; reactions range from disbelief, refusal of taking the test, questioning of the validity of the test, and many other reactions. Others have a great understanding before they take this test, have done some work themselves around implicit bias, and understand everyone has implicit bias. Again all of these reactions are perfectly normal; just stages

26 10, 2017

Inside Our Programs: Lew Wallace #107

2021-05-20T17:41:40-04:00October 26th, 2017|Tags: , , |

Any visitor is a special treat to a group of kindergarten students. But these kids don't have any old visitor today. "Ms. Maria! Ms. Maria!," they chirp in glee as Maria Ruiz, Youth Development Facilitator enters their classroom at Lew Wallace #107. She sits on the floor, in the circle that all their activities take place in, and waits patiently as they take their seats around the circular rug. Without saying a word Maria pulls out a singing bowl and taps the side of it causing a ring to emanate across the classroom. Immediately the wiggles and giggles cease and each student begins taking deep, calming peace breaths. After three of these breaths, where you can literally feel the room's energy mellow, she begins an empowerment chant that the kids clearly know by heart as they join in. "I love myself." "I loooooooovvvvvvveeeee myself." "Because I am smart." "I am strong." "I am kind." "I can help." "Yes, I can." "Yes, we can." "Si se puede." "Because I'm a good kid." "I'm a good kid." It's been a few weeks since Maria has seen this class; this is their first week back from fall break. She pulls out a stuffed animal, a black poodle with red bows in its hair. This is their speaking piece. When anyone in the circle wants to speak they have to have the speaking piece in their hands and everyone wants a chance to

20 10, 2017

Inside our Programs: Simon Youth Academy

2021-05-20T17:41:41-04:00October 20th, 2017|

Picture this: A group of 15 youth are seated in an open-classroom setting, cell phones are nowhere to be seen, and all the students are fully engaged in the topic being presented by the woman at the front of the room. This is what you'll find each Friday afternoon between 11:30 - 12:30 when Melita Carter, Youth Development Facilitator, visits Simon Youth Academy. Her lesson always begins with a quick review of what was talked about the last lesson, with students leading the charge. This particular morning they're reviewing self-esteem and the meaning behind affirmations for yourself and others. Each student takes a moment to say one positive thing about themselves. "I'm nice." "I have good hair." "I am confident." Unprompted, they ask to be able to do the same for their classmates. "This right here is my best friend and when I'm feeling down she always brings me up." "I really like your glasses." "You always make people laugh." Melita is piloting a new program centered around Economic Justice at Simon Youth Academy and the students are fully committed to learning what she has to say. She asks them to demonstrate that they remember the concepts they've discussed recently and one girl tentatively explains institutional oppression as she remembers it, apologizing as she finishes up her statement. Melita is quick to say "Don't ever apologize for speaking up." And then with no preamble, no introduction, Melita launches into a

21 09, 2017

Confession Time

2021-05-20T17:41:43-04:00September 21st, 2017|Tags: |

by Kristina Hulvershorn, Director of Restorative and Humane Programs Confession time.  In all of my work in various school districts and youth-serving environments I am notoriously calm and even-tempered; but, there is one thing I frequently want to exclaim, write across the sky, or maybe get tattooed in a conspicuous place: Accountability is not the same thing as punishment.  Unfortunately, this is one of the greatest stumbling blocks for those parents, teachers, and other professionals working to implement restorative practices. We are often so afraid that alternatives to traditional punishments won’t allow for one to “own” their actions and take responsibility that we fail to give them the opportunity.  We hold so tight to the notion that if we just punish them well enough, they’ll learn their lesson.  This simply isn’t true.   Heaps of data and all of my experience call this punishment mentality into question. How does this play out?  “He disrespected me and deserves to be punished”, “She knew better than to break that rule and so she should be suspended.”  The biggest challenge is not kids who refuse to take ownership. It’s us “grown-ups” who feel so put upon by negative behaviors that we have a hard time letting go and making room for youth to make amends, take ownership, and move forward. Let me further illustrate this point with a couple examples from my work in Restorative Justice in the last few weeks. Scenario one: 

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