The Invisible Weight We Carry
"The weight of the world is on my shoulders."
"I feel great - like a weight has been lifted."
"I'm just weighed down."
"Take a load off..."
In order to organize restorative justice for behaviors in your classroom, students need to have buy-in to fixing the harm in their community. Early in the school year (or sometimes later, too) students test the limits of your classroom, but have no investment in the community. This leads to a lack of restorative options when it comes to addressing poor behavior. If the student doesn't value fixing their mistakes, then they also don't feel compelled to do the restorative work. This pushes teachers to go with punitive options that frustrate the wrong-doer and pushes them further away. What a pickle!
This lesson starts to build the kind of empathy that makes students want to make things right. We all know that saying unkind things is hurtful, but we often don't consider the kind of big damage that small words or actions could do.
There are correlations between this lesson and the idea of "bucket filling." In the popular book "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids" by Carol McCloud, the author tackles a similar idea. In our lesson, we take this one step further. While the visualization of a full or empty bucket helps kids understand their actions, it doesn't necessarily address the physical feeling that these actions can evoke. Many times, it is this feeling of physical stress that make us react with less patience, more venom, and heightened anger or frustration. Using actual weight to talk about the weight of our words and actions helps draw this connection. It helps kids connect why sometimes they have a bigger reaction than other times. Also, they can start to understand why another student may be very hurt over something that they didn't consider especially hurtful.