Restorative Circles Part Two

17 Nov

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Here are some more thoughts on some PD I attended this month on RP. Restorative circles generally have three phases. You can explain these phases and what happens in each of them to students. Teaching restorative practices, skills and concepts using this curriculum will support each of these phases; it will increase the likelihood of successful outcomes.

First phase—before the circle: The main tasks in the first phase include:

Figuring out who was most affected and inviting them to participate in the dialogue · Making sure that everyone understands what to expect.Sportively listening to each person—especially those who are affected in harmful ways—to help them begin the process of telling their story.Managing the logistics of setting up a meeting. Sometimes the first phase happens very quickly, on-the-spot, as in impromptu circles that are called immediately when a conflict arises. Many circumstances involve taking more time, sometimes meeting individually with each person involved.

Second phase—the circle dialogue: This is the actual circle, where the restorative questions are used to help people come to understanding and make things right.

Use the restorative questions. Ask each person in turn. Facilitate and prompt as necessary.Avoid going into counseling mode. Also avoid solving the problem for the participants. Allow those who are affected to define the issues and develop their own plan for making things right. When preparing students for the circle dialogue, clarify that it is not like a courtroom drama. Nobody is on trial. Even if students’s stories about what happened differ and seem to contradict each I thank all of you, students and parents alike, who worked hard to establish understanding and agreements, and address the hurtful and damaging behaviors that took place.

 Third phase—after the circle: The main focus here is on accountability and support. Accountability means following up on the agreements and keeping track of their status. This may also include letting everyone who was in the circle know when they have been completed. Support means providing resources to help people complete their agreements. Sometimes completing agreements challenges the skills and resources of students. For example, writing an effective letter of apology may be a stretch for a student’s literacy skills. The person(s) who are monitoring plan completion will need to be sensitive to these challenges and help to arrange for tutoring or other support as needed

 

 

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