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.
But facilitating (or “keeping”) a circle isn’t as easy as it seems. Circles ask us to change the way we relate to each other. Instead of coming together in the roles we usually play (such as teacher or student), we come together as people on a more level playing ground. Doing this takes skill and practice.
Since 2011, Morningside Center has partnered with the NYC Department of Education to introduce restorative circles and other restorative practices to hundreds of public schools. Through our Restore360 Program, we provide educators with a five-day introductory course and follow up coaching. For those who have experience with circles, we also offer a two-day course on using restorative interventions when harm has been done.
Morningside Center staff developers field many questions from educators about keeping effective circles.
In this new feature, our senior trainer and staff developer Marieke van Woerkom will answer your questions about restorative circles and other restorative practices. Marieke kicks off the feature by answering some basic questions we often hear from educators who are doing this courageous work.
Your turn: Ask away!
We invite you to send us your questions about particular challenges you’re facing related to restorative circles and related practices. Tell us what’s happening, and we’ll do our best to help! Send your email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.