Elements of attitude . . .
. . . for effective Circle-keeping
- We above me. Carefully consider that you are leading a group process. Pay attention to the social and emotional climate of all members in the group. Put aside your needs, and focus on the needs of the collective.
- Inclusiveness. Think beyond those in the room, consider that all viewpoints should be respected. Please don’t speak harshly about anyone or any version of reality. If you want to build trust and have people confide in you, be respectful to all.
- Wholeness. The Circle is not the keeper’s time to process experiences. You share from a place that you are okay, not from a place of needing help. Acknowledge and believe in the good and wholeness of others. Do the best you can to create space where acceptance and healing can flourish.
- Respect for all. Consider your language and the words you use. Encourage the best in others, avoid negativity, tread lightly in your speech and actions, be gentle.
- Equality. As keeper, you are guiding the process, the process is about everyone, be equal in how you guide the group. Just as wheel spins better balance, so does a Circle.
- Role Model Restorative efforts. Promote equal worth, demonstrate that wrongs are opportunities for right, allow and encourage growth. Speak about things and tell stories from this perspective.
- Know your stuff, don’t pretend to know more. Really doing restorative justice takes practice and intention. The concepts and values are good things, and similar to ways we interact, heal, grow and learn. The approach is humanistic, and makes a lot of sense. The philosophy and approach can resonate with many things, however, specific elements create RESTORATIVE JUSTICE. Please don’t water down and assign Restorative Justice to practices that do not apply.
- Be humble. Remember that you are just a grain of sand on the beach of life. If you touch a life, let it be for good.
Over vacation I finally finished reading Restoring Justice An Introduction to Restorative Justice, 4th Edition by Dan Van Ness and Karen Heetderks Strong. I’ve read numerous RJ books and articles, and I had started and stopped, referenced different parts of this text many times. Finally start to finish. For a practitioner that gets to do this stuff 5 days a week and sometimes 7, it was STILL good to review. I encourage study, study, study of the process to really have a grasp on what constitutes and creates RJ.
For a refresher the RJOB Intro slide show. Let your knowledge influence your attitude. Bring a restorative attitude to Circle-keeping and you will bring about the restorative justice experience.