Restorative circles are a tool used by educators to build community and navigate conflict. Based on Brazilian culture, restorative circles involve an entire community coming together in order to take turns listening and speaking (Follestad & Wroldsen, 2018). When participating in a restorative circle, there is one designated talking piece that sets expectations for all participants on when to talk and when to listen. The purpose of a talking piece is to establish shared power, self-responsibility, and mutual understanding (Barter, n.d.).
In circumstances of conflict, it is important to ensure that the following participants are present for a restorative circle:
Those that have acted
Those that have been acted against
Other relevant members of the community that were impacted by the actions
The purpose of a circle in moments of conflict allows for:
Acknowledges that relationships are central to building community.
Ensures equity of voice among members of the community, all voices are valued, and everyone is heard.
Establishes a culture of high expectations with high support, emphasizing doing things “WITH” not “TO” or “FOR”.
Builds systems that address misbehavior and harm in a way that strengthens relationships and focuses on the harm done rather than only rule-breaking.
Engages in collaborative problem-solving.
Enhances accountability, responsibility and empowers change and growth for all members of the community (Amstutz & Mullet, 2005).
HOW ARE THEY USED AT HOPE?
There are a variety of ways in which circles are incorporated into our school day. Some examples include:
Spontaneous Informal or Scheduled Meetings/Circles
On-the-spot or scheduled meetings
Classroom Responsive Meetings/Circles
Brief Restorative Interventions
Classroom Morning Meeting and review of unexpected changes
Classroom afternoon wrap-up meeting
During a circle, an example of questions that may be asked include:
What happened and what were you thinking at the time?
What have you thought about since?
Who has been affected and how?
What about this is/has been hardest for you?
What needs to happen to make things as right as possible moving forward?
Amstutz, L., & Mullet, J. (2005). The little book of restorative discipline. pp. 26-28.