Picture it, May 2022. It’s almost the end of the school year, we all have so much on our plates already. I got an email from my principal saying “Congratulations! You’re one of the teachers that’s been chosen to join the 2022-2023 cohort of teachers in RPIA”. Fantastic. Wonderful. But what is RPIA and why was I chosen? The rest of my K-1 team met with Claire a couple of weeks later to hear all about the wonderful things we would be doing. This would be part of my PLC for the coming year, so I knew I had to take this seriously. But to be honest, I wasn’t excited about it. I had so many other “things” to worry about and I didn’t want to add one more. I spent most of my summer sitting on the beach (poor me) thinking about how I could incorporate Restorative Practices into my classroom and reading up on it.
August rolled around and it was time to get back into school mode. I made a promise to myself and my family that this year I’d be better. I’d be more positive, and I would not bring work home with me especially after the disaster that was last year. Fake it till you make it right? Except, by mid-September I realized I was no longer faking it. I was coming to school every day with a positive attitude. Excited to learn more about my students. Excited to hear about their day and what they expected this new day to bring. As the year progressed, I feel myself actually loving my job again and being excited to come to school every day. My students were doing well. My EL who started with us well after school started, was now speaking in FULL sentences and had made friends. A huge comparison to his first day where all he did was cry and look for someone he could speak Portuguese with. Every single one of my students went up at least 4 levels from Fall to Spring on their F&P assessments. But maybe the biggest accomplishment was – all of my students learned that they had a voice in the classroom. Morning meetings were a time they felt safe and their peers helped them along the way. During this time, I started to implement a restorative practice called “Fist to Five”. The students gave a rating (0-5) on their feelings about the day or how their day is going so far. This then gave me a chance to see if anyone was struggling, or if there was something we could celebrate together as a team. Since the beginning of the year, “Fist to Five” has evolved into “Good News and Bad News”, but it’s still very effective and my students are comfortable sharing how things are going in their lives, whether it’s good or bad.
It’s now May 2023. One year since the dreaded “Congratulations” email. But, it’s no longer dreadful. My students and I have grown together this year. They will move on to second grade knowing they have a say in how they feel and what each day will bring. “Fist to Five” will forever be a favorite, and I am moving on with renewed positivity and the hope that I can coach the next round of teachers on the JOY of RPIA and what it can bring to their classroom.