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What Can a Circle Do?

November 30, 2021 | Tania Oro-Hahn

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  1 Peter 4:8

The bible says, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”  To me this means that when our hearts are warmed toward others, we can listen better, empathize more, and offer greater generosity.  Love helps us care more deeply and understand more readily.  

At Mustard Seed School, we strive to build a loving community, always.  Making time for community is how we create safe spaces where student engagement, student learning, and social emotional growth can flourish. 

How do we build community?  How do teachers in all our classrooms strive for creating a psychologically safe environment?  This is no easy task and often our classrooms seem to be spaces where there is much play.  But our play is fundamental to our community.  Play is sometimes our work too.  Play helps us engage in friendship, get to know each other and primes us to learn. 

What helps students learn and grow?  Research tells us that students accomplish tasks and engage in real learning when they feel loved, welcomed, known, and accepted.  Belonging is key to our emotional and intellectual growth.  Students will take risks when their community is willing to show them love, grace, and kindness?  

In October, students learned how to use Restorative Practices Circles.  They learned a protocol for engaging that slows down our talking and emphasizes our listening.  One thing I love about using circles is that it gives us opportunities to intentionally listen well to our classmates, not feel rushed to speak and know for sure, everyone will have a turn to speak. We use Restorative Practices Circles to build “muscle memory” when listening to others and engaging one another.  

What happens when someone in the community cannot reach out with kindness, grace, patience, or love?  Restorative practices give us habits for positive engagement and Restorative Justice gives us practices to help address conflict and broken relationships.  We have practiced how to engage in fun and authentic ways, and when conflict arises, we will use Restorative Justice principles to aid our conversations and resolve conflicts.  

Please pray for us as we seek to build community after many hybrid moments and restrictions that still impact our school traditions.  We are learning a new normal and we are looking for ways to grow our community.  If you are interested in participating in A short term Restorative Family Circles.  Click the link to register. There is still time to register.

Tania Oro-Hahn

Spanish, Grades Two through Eight; Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Señora Oro-Hahn was drawn to Mustard Seed School because of its mission to serve an economically and racially diverse community. Teaching students has been a part of Sr. Oro-Hahn’s life for the past 30 years. Prior to working at Mustard Seed School, she worked with college students through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She has a passion for helping students grow spiritually and linguistically. Sr. Oro-Hahn’s goals as a teacher are to create a loving classroom community so that students will understand the perspective of other cultures, be brave, and take a risk in speaking Spanish, realizing how fun it is to use language. As a language teacher, Sr. Oro-Hahn strives to make work seem more like play, and so she often uses games, skits, and group activity in the classroom. She loves to mentor students.

Sr. Oro-Hahn uses her art background to help students illustrate poetry, and develop creative dramatic ways to communicate in Spanish.

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