Restorative circles have transformative power: They can create community where none existed before. They can connect students to each other and to the rest of the school community in meaningful ways. They can create safe, welcoming spaces to build trust and hone our skills. They can help us take on thorny issues, from discipline problems and conflict to implicit bias and inequity.
Much of the power of the circle process resides in the talking piece – the object that we pass in order from person to person around the circle as we invite each person to speak or to pass.
Introducing mindfulness into the middle school classroom has been an interesting endeavor for me this year. Mindful awareness (attending to the here and now, being fully present, with intention and curiosity, trying not to judge) is challenging for most people. It certainly has been for me.
I was working in Warren recently, a city hard hit by layoffs and shutdowns in the Ohio Rust Belt. One of the 8th grade teachers asked me if I could model a circle in her classroom. She was interested in engaging her students in a different way.
I recently heard the educator and writer Parker Palmer talking about silences with Courtney Martin on NPR’s On Being. Palmer said that we need to “learn to listen deeply to each other…and ask honest, open questions to hear each other into speech.” We need to create a safe space where this can happ
Morningside Center has helped hundreds of schools turn the corner on fighting, bullying, and disrespect.
We work hand in hand with teachers and school leaders to create a positive school and classroom climate by building social and emotional skills in young people and adults.
For the past three years, Morningside Center has partnered with the NYC Department of Education to bring "restorative circles" to schools throughout the city.
Lupe, a 12th grader from Brooklyn, talks about why she decided to become a Circle Keeper and the impact it has had on her interactions with other students.
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