Stronger Communities Through Play: Kathleen McGoey’s Innovative Approach to Teaching Restorative Justice

In an age where traditional methods of imparting knowledge are constantly evolving, restorative justice has found a fresh and engaging voice in Kathleen McGoey. At the forefront of the 2020 RJ World Conference, McGoey, alongside her co-author Lindsey Pointer, captivated audiences with a unique and interactive approach to teaching the principles of restorative justice. This year, the duo returned with an expanded arsenal of games and activities, aiming to further solidify restorative justice’s core tenets within communities

Building on the foundational work introduced in their previous presentation, Kathleen and Lindsey delved deeper into the realm of restorative pedagogy. It’s not just about teaching restorative justice; it’s about doing so in a manner that genuinely resonates with restorative values and principles. Their argument? Play and interaction can be powerful mediums for understanding and internalizing complex concepts.

The activities they showcased were ingeniously designed to introduce learners to the overarching philosophy of restorative justice. From recognizing underlying needs behind problematic behavior to honing active listening skills, attendees were offered a multifaceted toolkit. One of the standout activities shed light on what Edward Valandra termed the “first harm” – the grave injustices meted out to native populations in the U.S. Through these engaging games, participants were not just made aware of the foundational principles of restorative justice but also prompted to introspect and work towards ameliorating such historical wrongs.

Kathleen McGoey’s credentials speak for themselves. With an MA in International Peace & Conflict Studies and a successful tenure as the Executive Director of Longmont Community Justice Partnership, her grasp of the subject is both academic and practical. Her co-authored work, “The Little Book of Restorative Teaching Tools,” is a testament to her commitment to spreading the message of restorative justice far and wide. Through her online platform,, she generously offers a plethora of activities for educators and enthusiasts alike.

For those who had the opportunity to view their presentation, the most palpable takeaway was the duo’s passionate belief in the potential of interactive teaching. When introducing a game or activity, Kathleen and Lindsey provided clear instructions, highlighted the appropriate context for its application, and shared personal observations about the outcomes they’ve witnessed. This hands-on approach, infused with real-world insights, offered participants a tangible roadmap for integrating these activities within their communities.

In conclusion, Kathleen McGoey’s presentation was not just a lesson in restorative justice; it was a masterclass in innovative education. By harnessing the universal language of play and interaction, she and Lindsey Pointer have created a compelling and accessible way for communities to understand and adopt the principles of restorative justice. As we navigate an era that increasingly demands understanding, empathy, and repair, tools like these become invaluable assets in shaping a more harmonious future.