It cannot be emphasized enough that circles are a pro-active tool designed to build and maintain relationships. Once trust is established, respect soon follows, thus making it easier to address classroom issues when they do arise. Circles can be used to address course climate (non-academic) and academic (homework, test preparation, skills assessment, etc.) issues. The examples of primary circles provided in this section are designed to help students build relationships as well as address both behavioral and academic issues before and when occur.
Always begin circles with a warm-up activity first that does not require a right or wrong answer. Then, progress to circle activities that address the primary concern or issue as is represented in this section. Examples of primary circles included in this guide consist of:
1. Using an icebreaker to help students get to know each other;
2. Establishing ground rules with the class;
3. Identifying and addressing challenges to completing course assignments;
4. Checking the temperature of the class to see what works and what could be better;
5. Identifying and preventing offensive language;
6. Addressing hot button issues;
7. Determining how well students understood new material;
8. Ending on a positive note after a difficult discussion;
9. Creating an atmosphere that encourages questions and mistakes;
10. Soliciting thoughtful feedback for peer writing exercises.
The following activities were adapted from:
Boyes-Watson, Carolyn and Kay Pranis. Circle Forward: Building a Restorative School Community. St, Paul, MN. Living Justice
Follestad, Berit and Nina Wroldsen. Using Restorative Circles in Schools: How to Build Stronger Learning Communities and Foster Student Wellbeing. London, Jessica Kingsley, 2019.
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