Like most everything else at WCSS, TP is in constant evolution; evolving to meet the needs of the community.
TP stands for Transformative Practice and is inspired from the Transformative Justice movement in America where it is used to work with communities where there is a
prevalence of violence and abuse; talking to the victims and the perpetrators to transform the community. TP takes the blame and shame used in punitive justice, and instead looks at the whole of the environment.
Another inspiration for WCSS’s TP is from Restorative Circles which are becoming more prevalent in schools across the globe.
TP is used in our school for conflict resolution. In most other Sudbury Schools they use a system called the Judicial Committee (JC) which stems from the American Penal System. When we looked at recordings and read material on the JC it didn’t sit well with any of the five founders of WCSS. We started to research and this is how we came upon Transformative Justice and Restorative Circles which inspired us because of its use of empathy, heart, and community and takes away the blame and shame of the punitive justice system. Other practices that inspired us were things such as emotional literacy and Non-Violent-Communication. We studied these things individually and as a team and came up with what we now call Transformative Practice.
It is still early days but we have had many a successful day using this practice. How do we know it is successful? When it does just that...TRANSFORMS the community. It is palpable.
So...How does it work? TP is used once a week. We have an agreement with the parents and the student that they are present on these days so they may attend TP if called or INVITED.
If someone is invited to TP, it means they have done something that has bothered another in the community which could not be resolved between the individuals.
We have a TP box with a lock so it is kept confidential. Anyone can invite anyone else in the community including staff which has been done. On Thursday the individual(s) is called to TP along with the person inviting. There is a TP committee made up of a staff member and 3-4 non-biased students. The individuals are able to bring someone with them for support if they so choose.
Here are some of the questions we may use:
1. How are you feeling today?
2. Today you are called to TP due to the following...
3. What happened?
4. Why did it bother you?
5. Is there anything you’d like to say or anything you’d like us to know?
6. Did you try and solve this yourself? (All questions asked with curiosity, not judgement)
7. Is there anything you’d like to do differently in the chance that it happens again?
8. Do you still agree with the following ‘agreement’? (Decided and agreed upon at the school meeting and written into WCSS’s Record of Agreements.)
9. Do you have any ideas how this might be dealt with?
10. Do you find this decision fair? Do you find these suggestions fair?
11. We then thank and celebrate the people involved...
The following are derived from the Restorative Circles and fit perfectly with our TP
1. Please listen and speak with respect: Language both verbal and non-verbal can be quite powerful
2. Respect everyone’s privacy - Only tell your own story
3. Share time fairly
4. Please speak only when you have the talking piece
In line with Transformative Justice and any type of justice ACCOUNTABILITY has to come into play. But this could look different for each and every situation and depends upon the individuals involved.
Many times accountability can be a slow step-by-step process happening over time.
Like I said it is early days and we will keep on top of it by watching and listening to what the students and staff, indeed the whole community desires and needs. Many times we think we can see the future and having a vision can be glorious, but it needs to be open to change and evolution, for it is All of Us, WCSS.