Restorative Circles or Talking circles are used to heal the people that are a part of it. We all need healing and I have learned that sometimes you don’t know that you need healing until someone shares something that you can relate to. It should be an environment that promotes healthy conversation. I used this to support a couple that was struggling to stay together and I also had a circle for a class that was struggling with bullying. They are amazing to do with your family as well.These councils or circles can be to used for various situations. I started a Tuesday talking circle because it was very important to build communities within my school. Even with a great school culture some students can still feel isolated and it is important to try to reach as many students as you can. This was a platform that encouraged students to communicate with their peers grades 5 to 8 about topics that they were going through at home or school. Students were able to make new friendships and the circles created great support systems for each other.
Talking Circle Rules: *speak from the heart, *Listen from the heart, Be spontaneous, Equity of Voice, Circle conversation does not leave the circle.
-Students put chairs in a circle
-There is only one speaker and it is the person holding the talking stick
-The talking stick goes around the circle clockwise.
-When the talking stick comes to you can either share out or pass the talking piece (sharing out is not required)
-each person writes down a topic (or 2 depending on the size of the group) that they would like to discuss and put all the topics, anonymously, in a jar.
-One person (usually the teacher) will pick a topic out of the jar and everyone has a chance to share what comes to their mind when they think of the topic.
-The talking piece will go around giving all participants an opportunity to share what is on their mind. If the talking slick goes around the circle one or two times without anyone sharing out then the facilitator will then choose the next topic out of the jar.
Restorative Circle Agenda:
Share the 4 / 5 rules - The rules are shared out loud so everyone is in agreeance and it is also a reminder to everyone that even though it may be fun and refreshing,it is also a time to speak your truth without worrying about being judged.
Dedication - student wanting to dedicate the circle to a loved one, victims of a tragedy, injured pet, etc will do so when they hold the talking piece.
Opener - introduce the circle with fun or joy. E.g. Name an animal that you feel like today.
Topics - Teacher draws a topic to start the discussion
*You can also plan the topic questions ahead of time if your circle is dedicated to a specific topic e.g. bullying, lack of respect, joy, making friends, helping others learn, kindness, etc
Engagement - Students share one thing that they heard someone say during the discussion (this just reassures that students were engaged and listening to their peers.
Close - As the facilitator, I like closing with a final saying that ends with a final thought. This final thought is always meant to inspire and encourage all participants of the circle.
What are your thoughts? Have you used restorative practices? How has implementation worked for you? your students?