School-based Restorative Justice Circles – handouts and example demonstration.
In a school gym, we placed the Circle Center items in the basketball center court. Four student volunteers each had a direction, and at each direction 3 months of the year were designated and students divided themselves based on date of birth. This was a technique to mix them up and to have them take responsibility for creating the shape and form of the Circle. The students were in clustered groups in the four directions. I explained that each volunteer would read a value, and bring a talking piece for the Center. Each group would come to the Center and be seated, making room for the others, making a round shape. I explained that the Center was like a fire, and we would all need to be equally warmed by it. This was to have the students take responsibility for the shape, it was an empowering action, so I could promote them being invested in working together.
I had 4 students that volunteered to do a brief reading on each of the 4 values. That handout is 4 Circle Values. Once we were seated minimal adjustment was needed.
We used a powerful opening, Restorative Justice Circle in Schools (2nd page). The first page features information about using Restorative Justice Circles in Schools.
I spent time slowly and carefully explaining Restorative Justice and the creation of a strong Restorative Justice Circle. I had the students re-read the elements of being in Circle (4 values).
I demonstrated connectedness using an energy ball. The energy ball shown is in one hand, you put a person on each side, and make a large connection. People will test the connection and drop hands. When all hands are connected, the energy ball lights up and hums, very cool, especially with a large group.
I also did a collective listening practice, simply rang my tingsha’s.
Our Getting Acquainted Questions included – what you had for breakfast, and what you would have liked to have. This helped us know each other. We also did a round where each person ended with “thank you for listening”, at the passing of the talking piece, everyone said “thank you for sharing”.
Our Building Relationship round, included questions about the use of Circles in School.
The Addressing Issues phase included more teaching about Circles. We “rested” the talking piece and allowed the community members and students to share Circle experiences. I always appreciate when people who I don’t expect to share, share. A student at the school had been referred to a Circle, and offered how his experience was better than he expected.
I accepted questions about Circle process, I encouraged individuals to participate if invited, if impacted or if given the option to be in Circle. This particular school uses Circles to address issues.
The Taking Action phase included some feedback about the experience. With such a large group we did a one word reflection.
An introduction to Circle is all it needs to be for a demonstration. I got to know the students, they got introduced to the process. The staff and teachers got to sit with the students in a different context than usual. Together these individuals got to experience a building of their community.
I hope this demonstration gives you some ideas or example for a Circle you might hold.