The Transformation of a West Philadelphia High School

In this video staff and students at a West Philadelphia High School talk about the transformation the school has undergone as a result of participation in restorative circles.  

Focus:  Restorative circles and Restorative Discipline
Time: 9:03 min
Who & Where: West Philadelphia High School, Philadelphia, PA
Grade Level: High School



In the first part of the video, staff at the school talk about how they transformed their school by shifting from a punitive approach to a restorative approach using restorative circles, community building and teaching social skills.

Staff talk about a particular incident with a group of girls that had escalated.  The girls participated in a restorative circle where they had an opportunity to talk and listen to each other.  It came out that the incident had started because of a misunderstanding.  Students also reflect on their experience with circles, how it makes them feel and how it has transformed their school experience.  

Before circles they describe a violent environment with lots of fights and suspensions, where there was fear. Now “Circles have changed our class, because we’ve had to talk to one another, like, it’s not just the teachers, all of us together, so we’ve kind of had to come as a team, and talk.”  

“When something’s bothering me, circles help me relax, cause I’m talking to somebody.  With me, when I’m frustrated, sad and all these other emotions, I need to talk to somebody.” And as the AP explains: “I think the turning moment, and I could see it in the students’ faces, is when they realized they had a say, they realized they were participants, that they were going to be listened to, they could have input.”