Restorative Circles

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

Why this LibGuide?

During the Spring 2019 semester, eight full-time faculty embarked on a journey to incorporate more dignity in their classroom in an online course entitled Teaching with Dignity.  Using Donna Hicks’ book, Dignity, as a foundation, participants began to rethink their roles in the classroom and to transform their classes.  Dignity, as defined by Donna Hicks, is each individual's inherent right to be seen, heard, valued, and safe.  We increase the capacity for dignity by  ensuring the following needs are met: 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.

As a part of the course, faculty created Dignity Projects, which demonstrated the use of dignity concepts.  The projects were diverse, each speaking directly to student needs.  Projects consisted of creating exit tickets to help students name and request both academic and non-academic needs; creating assignments that allow quiet students to be heard; helping students to create a work-life balance; inspiring storytelling to foster understanding; discussing issues of race to create greater capacity for empathy; reducing the fear of asking questions in science courses; addressing anxiety associated with writing the research paper, and addressing food insecurity within Frederick county and the college community.  This holistic approach to teaching allowed faculty to develop a greater understanding of how both academic and non-academic factors influence students’ experience in their courses. 

While faculty conducted meaningful dignity work in the classroom, many were requesting an additional resource that would help them to skillfully address potentially contentious topics when they arose in the classroom.  In other words, faculty wanted more resources to help them anticipate how to respond when student perceived their needs were not being met.   Faculty wanted to know how to respond in the absence of dignity.  This LibGuide is a response to that request.  While there are numerous ways to address the conflict that often signals unmet needs, restorative circles provide a way to anticipate and respond to conflict both inside and outside of the classroom.

Frederick Community College prohibits discrimination against any person on the basis of age, ancestry, citizenship status, color, creed, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, genetic information, marital status, mental or physical disability, national origin, race, religious affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status in its activities, admissions, educational programs, and employment.