I have an apology to make this week. It's long overdue and offered with genuine remorse and a commitment to improve in the future. It's to all the people that we Restorative Practices practitioners have bamboozled and possibly turned off RP over the years with our language. I know we've done it. You know we've done it. You know who are you if you've been on the receiving end and I, for one, am sorry. Not everyone is ready to hear (or likes hearing) terms such as Social Discipline Window, Innate Affects, Re-integrative Shame (it actually sounds bad to me when you put them all together), and other such terms. So today, by way of making amends I'm going to simplify things and say what I think RP is, based on my personal experience this year. I have left names out to protect people's modesty (not that some of the people below are in any way modest...). So what is RP?
RP is a school caretaker at the gate greeting every student between neighbouring primary and secondary schools every day with a smile and a hello. It won't be the only the smile they get every day, but it's the first one and it sets the tone, and I appreciated it when I got one.
RP is twenty people in a room with balloons tied around their ankles, leaping around and everyone trying to burst everyone else's balloon until only one remained. Truly a crazy and wonderful sight to behold at the same time.
RP is someone helping you with an IT problem and coming back two weeks later when they thought of a better solution to let you know about that too.
RP is someone entertaining the entire canteen with a 100 stories of life growing up in the North, but without resorting to the easy temptation of showing disrespect to the tradition up there that we don't understand.
RP is being pinched on the bum by your colleague (in a good way I mean.... not that I like being pinched in the bum ordinarily, you understand.... it was, well, just well intended and well received.... very innocent like.... you know what I mean?.... I'm not advocating everyone do this now you hear?.... Oh Jesus, do I need to submit this blog to the legal department first?)
RP is someone feeling safe enough to say they're "only getting this RP thing now" when they've been trained and working it for years. We understand it takes time.
RP is having two check-in circles a day instead of one (or none) where everyone laughs and the day just goes quicker. Try it for yourselves. It only takes a few minutes.
RP is getting eight people into a human knot and not knowing if or when they're ever going to get out (they did get out in the end by the way)
RP is challenging people and not knowing if they'll like it, but then having them come back and say "thanks for challenging me"
RP is staff and young people in a care home playing 'Stop The Bus' on a Sunday morning and having a laugh
RP is teaching a group of worried parents the concept of Extinction Burst Theory, but having the common sense not to use the term Extinction Burst Theory and, instead, use the analogy of waiting for the lift to explain it -(that guy knew how to simplify things)
RP is 100 small things we do every day that makes life and living better
RP is two teachers who've been working hard to make a difference with their students all morning, finding time every day at lunch to discuss how to make a difference with those same students for the afternoon
RP is watching grown men and women reconnect with their youth playing Lego - and getting competitive into the bargain
RP is watching adults have fun (we know kids do it, but we adults forget)
RP is nothing new. It's common sense. BUT, here's the thing. It's great if you or me can do it. But, if we can't tell someone what it is we are doing, or teach the next person, then how do we spread it? RP is a bunch of big words we use to explain something that's very simple and as old as mankind.
RP is an attempt at a common language.
RP is again sorry for over complicating RP and will try not to do it as much in the future.