Restorative Practices

What is a circle?

Circles are psychologically safe spaces where children and adults can feel safe, supported, respected and free to speak openly and honestly. Participating in circles helps people see opportunities, challenges and consequences. Circles can be powerful life altering experiences for the participants if they are willing to have a receptive attitude and deep listening.


Guiding principles of the circle

The circle process is guided by the following common principles:

  • Participants are asked to speak from the heart and listen with attention
  • All voices are important to be heard and have equal opportunity to speak>
  • There is a clear opening and closing of the circle
  • Participants engage in an intentional conversation about values and guidelines for how they want to treat each other
  • Building relationships takes precedence over other agendas
  • What is said in the circle stays in the circle
  • Practice self monitoring – be considerate of the impact of our thoughts, words and actions while we interact

Components of a circle

  • OpeningCheck In
  • Agreements
  • Discussion
  • Closing/Check Out

Opening – an invitation to participate in the circle and a time to shift participant’s attention and gets them centered or focused. The opening can be a reading, quote, poem, etc.
Check In – Insures that the participants are mentally present and ready to participate. It allows the circle facilitator to gage the mood, temperament, etc. Questions for check in can be tied to the circle topic or can be a general question
Agreements – allows the group to verbalize how they agree to treat each other and what each person needs in order to feel safe and free to speak
Discussion – Circle questions based on the topic of the circle. Questions can be designed to elicit a variety of responses such as storytelling, self reflection, information, brainstorming, etc.
Closing/Check Out – An official end to the discussion that can consist of sharing final thoughts or feelings, sharing what you learned, reading a poem, etc.