A gathering of the sages on Covid-19: Hear 3 of our most experienced practitioners address the current pandemic

Annegrete Johanson (Estonia)

Our wonderfully young but wise Annagrete comes to us from Estonia. She has worked with youth at risk in diferent fields and gave lectures in Universities for over 14 years. She now works as a service manager in Victim support and her responsibility is Restorative Justice and mediation. Annagrete also studied social work, social pedagogy and child care.

What will Annagret share with us in her presentation?

She will give us an overview of the challenges and sucessses of implementing Restorative Justice in Estonia in the last years. Next to finding a system of volunteers, the time of Covid-19 gave opportunity to develop Restorative Practice further. Especially, since we all were forced to think and look outside the box. Annagrete explains: “In Covid-19 time there were restorative discussion-circles online and after restrictions there were restorative discussion-circles in real life.” In her presentation, she will create a magical space dedicated to storytelling of people who took part in Restorative Practice initiatives.

Meanwhile, to get ready for her talk, you can check out a post which is part of the #SolidarityOverDistance series by the EFRJ (European Forum for Restorative Justice). The article with Annagrete is called “Discussion with Annagrete Johanson” – you’ll learn more about the influence of COVID-19 on Restorative Practice…

Mark Goodwin (UK)

Mark, our freelance teacher, trainer & coach has 20 years’ experience working across phases in a number of schools. He currently work in Alternative Provision with kids who are permanently excluded from school or at risk of exclusion, delivering a solutions focused coaching programme alongside key curriculum.

Moreover, he focusses on preventing kids being excluded by training staff in restorative and relational teaching approaches. He gracefully shared his Checklist focussing on“(…) how to go about building and maintaining effective relationships with young people to help them learn well.” Get free access to the checklist, which includes helpful tips, here: “The Cookie Jar Checklist“!

Also, he has published for “TES” (Times Educational Supplement) on the topic that’s in everyones minds at the moment… Yes, right: Coronavirus. More specifically: Teaching and Coronavirus. Or even better: “4 ways to re-integrate pupils who dislike school” during coronavirus.”

What will Mark share with us in his presentation?

His main topic will address the controversial and questioned matter of Coronavirus in context of education. Mark states: “Reconnecting with young people after Covid after recent events, there will be hundreds of kids who feel disconnected from school, learning and even themselves. This will most keenly be felt by those who are already disadvantaged and marginalised.”

Mark will draw on his deepened experience and expertise in reconnecting excluded kids to learning. He promises to present what is required in the coming weeks and months to support a successful reconnection, including:
– the mindset teachers need,
– the learning kids can do,
– the relationships that will be needed to be built.

He will share with us his approaches, which are based on:
– meeting the kids where they are,
– throwing a wide circle,
– “I see you”,
– “see the best part”, and
– “check Yourself”

He also let us know that his talk is “full of practical advice and approaches that anybody working with young people can take away and use.”

Dr Belinda Hopkins (UK)

“Transforming Conflict” logo. Taken from their Website: https://transformingconflict.org/

Please meet the fantastic lady who founded “Transforming Conflict“, a National Centre for Restorative Approaches in Youth and Community Settings, 25 years ago! The project “Transforming Conflict” turned out to meet an important social need, so that it now works with staff in children’s residential care, youth organisations and community care. Belinda is also a well-published author and restorative practitioner, trainer and consultant.

But that’s not all – Belinda pioneered the concept of a “whole-school restorative approach” across the UK in the early 2000’s! A true sage and visioner, she is. Moreover, she is on the EFRJ Values and Principles Working Party and is currently on their Training Committee.

What will Belinda share with us in her presentation?

Take a seat, and imagine this scenario…

“It is undeniable that schools worldwide, school communities are facing a ‘new normal’.
After months of isolation and frightening news bulletins we are soon to return to strange new environments facing guidelines that keep people at a distance, hidden behind masks, unable to socialise.
There is huge pressure to make up for lost time academically.
Schools may be tempted to become even more authoritarian to bring students back in line after months away from the routines and rhythms of their school community.

So what do we do in this case?

Belinda, together with Monica Alberti, will share a package of resources designed by UK restorative practitioners to support the mental and emotional health of the whole school community at this time of crisis. Before the talk, or during the talk – make sure you give this Website “www.restoreourschools.com” a visit! There, you learn more about “(…) How we plan for the return to the classrooms, playgrounds and corridors of schools.” You can also find help-full resources that support this journey.

Belinda was part of that original collective. Monica has been using the materials in Catalonia, working with the Catalan Department of Education to implement a restorative approach in schools not just as crisis intervention but for EVERY DAY.

So, sustainable, practical and informative take-away packages from these 3 speakers are guaranteed! See you there!

Author: Katharina Kurz

Katharina Kurz is a postgraduate Anthropology and Philosophy student from Austria. She recently obtained her degree at Maynooth University, Ireland. Her main area of research is the field of Restorative Practice/Restorative Justice. She has been organising and contributing to conferences such as the EU-wide conference series “RJ: Strategies for Change". Most recently, she became part of the nation-wide program “Enhancing Digital Teaching and Learning in Irish Universities” (EDTL) in the role of Maynooth University Associate.