Restorative Circles

A guide to describe what Restorative Circles are and how they work

What are Restorative Circles?

  • Restorative circles are an inclusive process involving a facilitator and participants  designed to address both potential and real challenges that may occur in any institutional or group setting.  Circles are about building and maintaining relationships.
  • Circles are designed to ensure that all voices are heard as well as provide a sense of community.  It is also a way to ensure dignity since it utilizes elements of dignity, including  1) acceptance of identity 2) inclusion 3) safety 4) acknowledgment 5) recognition  6) fairness 7) benefit of the doubt 8) understanding 9) independence  and 10) accountability.

What is the Purpose of Restorative Circles?

Circles are used to create relationships in the class and set the tone for dignity and respect, especially in courses that engage challenging topics involving gender, sexual identity, race, religion, class, culture, or ability.   It is difficult to be uncivil to someone if you have an established relationship with them.   Circles can be used to allow students to make observations and share their feelings about both academic and non-academic matters.  Circles emphasize all members of the class as equals and provide a space where every student can be seen, valued, and heard. Finally, studies have shown that restorative circles used in schools increase student motivation and success (Follestand and Wroldsen 14). 


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