Interested in guiding your classroom through a restorative circle process? Not sure where to begin? While no two circle discussions are alike, here are some common guidelines that we have found helpful in facilitating a restorative group process. Facilitators typically model these five behaviors themselves and often choose to share them with the group prior to beginning.
1) Speak from the heart: Speak not only with your head and ideas, but with your feelings. Share what is true for you based on your own experiences. When we speak from the heart we are aiming for eloquence, for choosing words that accurately communicate what we hold to be important.
2) Listen from the heart: Try to listen without judgement; let go of stories that make it hard to hear each other. An open heart makes an open mind. Even if you disagree with what someone says, take it in before you react or respond.
3) Speak Spontaneously. Wait until your turn to speak before you decide what you are going to say. Trust that the right words--or the right silence--will come to you when needed.
4) Without feeling rushed, say just enough: Keep in mind the limits of time and making room for everyone to speak. This intention is also called “lean expression.” It is related to “speak from the heart” because we often find that when we speak carefully we can express ourselves with fewer words than we would normally use, and that when we do our words often have more impact.
5) Welcome and expect different and contradictory points of view: Circles welcome and accept all points of view. We speak primarily into the center of the circle, where our diverse perspectives simmer together, and from where there often emerges a shared understanding or sense of purpose.
Circles are a powerful way of building strong community and "making things right" within in our relationships. Want to know more about how restorative circles might benefit your classroom or school?
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Or, feel free to contact us directly if you'd like to discuss your situation one-on-one. We'd be happy to help you assess if restorative process circles are right for you. We won't try to sell you on restorative council unless we truly believe it is a great option for you!
Amos Clifford, Guide and Restorative Council Mentor; trainer in restorative justice, restorative dialogue with nature, and circle-keeping and the way of council; mentor.