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A Restorative Circle is a specific discussion format focused on improving and repairing relationships. While often referring to conflict resolution, Restorative Circles are commonly used for all manner of discussion topics and situations.
The essential aspects of Restorative Circles include seating students in a literal circle and ensuring all students have equal opportunity to share. Variations can include using objects to signify authority (talking stick, etc.), holding the discussion sequentially so all speak in turn, using sentence starters or other focused discussion prompts, incorporating simple routines or rituals to signify the start and end of a conversation (lighting/extinguishing a candle, etc.), and more.
One of the most important considerations for a Restorative Circle is the emphasis on how speakers ought to share, using affective comments like “I feel…” instead of “I feel that…”. For example, sharing “I am sad when you…” instead of “Please don’t…”
To be effective in conflict resolution, some recommend using Restorative Circles regularly for positive experiences so that the occasion of negative experiences is the less common use.
Three questions that can be helpful during conflict resolution situations are:
Watch an example of a 9th grade Restorative Circle here: