Restorative Circles

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

Using circles to co-create the rules in the course

Some would argue that the first two weeks of class are the most critical in setting the tone for the class and creating expectations.  Although the syllabus serves as a guide for covering course content and objectives, a living document co-created with students can build community, articulate values, and create a buy-in for following through on completing assignments throughout the semester.

This activity is designed to help students name what they would like to see happen in the class to create a productive and positive classroom environment.   Students tend to be more invested and feel more ownership when they help set the ground rules.  This collective document created by the class can be posted in Blackboard and can serve as a check-in to ensure that objectives are being met as the semester progresses.

Circle Activity:

  1. On their own, have students to write down four words that make for a healthy or successful classroom experience.   Then have them to partner with one other student to narrow down their list to only four words.   Expand the circle by requesting the pair to work with two other students to come up with only four criteria.  After the students have narrowed their list, gather the students into one big circle and have the class to narrow down the ground rules to four criteria.
  2. At the end of the discussion, ask the students to talk about how they arrived at the top four.   Why are the four they came up with most important?
  3. How can they hold each other accountable for upholding the values that have been identified?
  4. What should happen when the class goals are not met?

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