School program highlights social-emotional learning in the classroom

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Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza visited the Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance Thursday to highlight efforts being made in restorative justice and social-emotional learning.

This is an initiative to put communication at the forefront. Students come together weekly for a restorative circle--a group session allowing students to discuss what's on their minds, in order to overcome conflicts.

"We work to problem-solve different situations that they might be having as students and learn about how to deal with social-emotional issues. I've definitely seen a change in - they're more willing to come to me if they are having a problem so that I have less outbursts in my classroom," said teacher Catherine Devine.

The goal of the initiative is also to make problem-solving a priority among students. This is in an effort by the city to proactively prevent bigger issues down the line.

"The numbers of suspensions, the numbers of superintendent suspensions, which are an indicator of a more serious infraction, have plummeted at this school because students have a way to talk about and resolve their issues," said Carranza.

As for students who may not get to express their emotions often, teachers say the restorative circle serves as an outlet for students, who are in turn, more productive throughout the week.

Carranza says thousands of students participate in the restorative justice program, but that he's hoping to expand the program to every school in the city.

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