Do you ever talk to yourself? Who are talking to?

As I was driving into work today – where I think up the best blogs.  Naturally, this same genius never happens when I am actually at my laptop.  I was mulling over some recent evaluation form comments, they were giving me feedback that students did not like the spiritual aspect of a recent Safe Teen Driving Circle.

I couldn’t figure that out.  To me the term spirituality is misunderstood.  It doesn’t mean religion, it doesn’t even mean Faith.  To me, and my use of it in Restorative Justice – is that spirituality is simply being connected to something bigger than ourselves.  Grand Scheme.  Life.  Greater purpose.  I don’t know.  To me it just means simply that part of us, that maybe we talk to.  In our own heads.   I think we talk to the person inside of us, and that’s the connection to the divine in all of us.  So anyway . . .

Restorative Justice views the whole person – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I operate from this knowledge.  It seems when doing RJ – the spiritual aspect is just naturally there.  For me anyway.  I don’t think I really go out of my way to foist on people.

The evaluations were from a Safe Teen Driving Circle for a high school class.  Twenty-five young people, the teacher and the speaker/storyteller.  I learned a valuable lesson.  Typically I have the evalution form as part of the overall session.  It is just standard that students fill the form out immediately after Circle.  I get everyone’s feedback. 

Well last Friday I left the standard practice.  Instead of doing the forms as part of the Circle I left copies with the teacher and asked if I could pick them up later.  BIG mistake.

Instead of 25 forms, like the number of students that participated in the Circle.  I have 8.  Four of those evaluations said that what they liked least was the “spiritual” aspect of it.  I know my definition of spiritual, but I don’t know what the students definition is.

I usually get this kind of statement about 1 out of every 100.  One comment referred to the ‘spiritual paragraph start and finish.  I had to think about that, because I didn’t see the open and close I read as “spiritual paragraphs”.  One form mentioned the Circle center as being the “unliked” spiritual piece.  (Huh?)

And final in a open comment section one student wrote: “Peers felt it was to spiritual”.  Interesting that someone would say what the other students thought.  That is something else that never happens when we do the forms right at the end of Circle.  People don’t write what other people thought, because they don’t know.  I take that back, comments are about how emotional they saw their peers in Circle.

When students fill out the forms in Circle – they are answering for themselves without cross contamination of the vocal student that would put an opinion out there.   It had to have been a discussion.  Why only 8 evaluations and not 25?  I’ve decided to try and let it go.  (yeah right)

If I made some students uncomfortable, well, I’m okay with that.  People don’t change in their comfort zone.  I feel bad I wasn’t part of the conversation, so I could have guided it back to what is Circle, Restorative Justice and what ‘spiritual’ pieces they felt they didn’t like. 

I wish I had heard from all of them right after the Circle and not right after they had a complaint session on the ‘spiritual’ aspect.  Clearly the message to wear a seatbelt, obey traffic laws, not to be impaired by cell phones or chemicals was lost on the dislike of the spiritual aspect.

I liked this Twitter today . . .

Deepak_Chopra The feeler behind the feelings, the thinker of the thoughts, the animator of our bodies and minds. It is our soul.

Something to consider. 

Just to say – I got positive feedback as well – on the forms student filled in a response to “what did you like the most”: 

-“it had a large effect on me, it was real and a very serious story.  It makes you think twice about every choice you make.”

-“I like the fact you bring a storyteller it is very effective.  The story was very moving and made an impact.” 

-“I enjoyed the sad story very much.  It really made me think.”

-“I like that all of the students seemed to be impacted.”

-“I liked the main speaker!  It was great!”