Ask the Keeper

In Ask the Keeper, our senior trainer and staff developer Marieke van Woerkom answers your questions about restorative circles and other restorative practices. Send us your questions about restorative practices, including about particular challenges you’re facing as you use these approaches in your school. Tell us what’s happening, and we’ll do our best to help!  

May 12, 2017

Recently in a circle, we had a very “heavy” sharing.  I was struggling to balance respectfully listening and appreciating participants' sharing and reflections. Then it got even heavier. When the talking piece got back to me, I acknowledged the heaviness in the room and suggested that we reflect on...

January 26, 2017

We've been doing circles at my school as a study skills course since the start of the year. It's been challenging when students act out, not respecting the talking piece. It impacts the rest of the group and their willingness to share. Do you have any suggestions of how to handle disruptive behavior...

November 6, 2016

We've been doing circles at my school as a study skills course since the start of the year. It's been challenging when students pass, pass, and pass again. This passing seems to get contagious at times. Do you think it would work to tell students that they can't pass for more than a go round or two?...

October 26, 2016

Our students do circles once a week on our special Friday schedule. I haven't run any of them because I am teaching at that time. I've seen them done very well, but in some circles students simply cannot be managed. We also have "responsibility time," when we can request to speak with a child after...

October 22, 2016

We've experimented with different circle sizes, and I believe there is such a thing as too big a circle. What do you think is an ideal size for circles? 

October 7, 2016

This is our third year using circles as part of our middle school after-school program. We've had some powerful experiences in circles and it's really helped strengthen our community. But I've found that students sometimes get impatient with the talking piece going around in order. Do you think it's...

September 19, 2016

Many educators come to our Restore360 trainings interested in new ways to handle disciplinary issues in school. They may have found the punitive approach doesn’t work particularly well and want to limit suspensions, which can be harmful to our young people. They’ve been told that restorative circles...

September 8, 2016

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...

September 8, 2016

In our feature Ask the Keeper, senior trainer and staff developer Marieke van Woerkom answers your questions about restorative circles and related practices in schools.  Send your questions to: keeper@morningsidecenter.org.