I have always been resistant to scripts. When someone is in converstaion with you, do they read from a paper? Reading is best for with children on our laps and from books.
However, in order to teach the process and have others do it, you need to give some examples. So I am sharing a sample script. Each Circle is unique, the questions used should be unique. The shell or outer rim (values, 4 stages, talking piece, open/close) should be the same. The contents swirl within. The experience should be like a labyrinth going in deep to conversation and coming back out.
A quote on Twitter today – spiritual growth happens with a change of perspectives. Every Restorative Justice Circle should change some ones perspective.
When you “keep” a Circle you are making a committment to guide the process. Knowing and understanding the approach in a manner that you can be flexible to the needs of the Circle, requires a deep understanding of the philosophy. Training is crucial, being a participant in Circle is necessary to achieve the deep understanding.
The sample script:
St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program – Circle of Understanding
q Hi, I am ____________ and I’ll be co-keeping Circle today. With ____________. I have been training in Restorative Justice and talking Circles, and will be guiding our process today.
q Thank you for choosing to participate, and I am going to explain a little about Restorative Justice and Circles.
q Restorative Justice – is focused on values, and that if we all live in good relationship values, we will all be safer and happier.
q One way to do restorative justice is with the Circle process – Circles work because we are all equal, we all have difference perspectives and we all contribute to the Circle. The Circle is for all of us.
q There are a few things that guide Circle. I want to start by introducing the object that I hold in my hand. It is called a “talking piece.” When you hold the talking piece, you have the floor to speak, or to pass. You can pass, when you get the talking piece, this is by invitation, if you feel your silence speaks more, feel free to hold the talking piece until you feel you are heard.
q When others hold the talking piece, you listen. The talking piece moves around the circle rather than across the circle. Please wait to respond to questions until the next time the talking piece comes to you. This is a way to give each person a chance to speak while everyone else listens as it is passed around the circle.
q We listen and speak differently in Circle, than everyday life. We speak from our heart, use our wisest words, and speak to not offend anyone else. We listen for understanding instead of listening for right/wrong/agree and disagree.
q Because this is a different way of communicating, we will have a short open and close to begin and end our time of communicating this way.
q Confidentiality is another important piece of Circle – you can speak about your experience after the Circle. Please don’t speak about the story that someone else told in Circle.
q Any questions before we begin?
q (in your packet)
Step 1. Getting Acquainted: The conference has four parts. The first part is getting acquainted and we will do that by identifying our values.
q I am going to pass out paper plates and ask you to think of someone who is really important to you.
q After you think of the person, think of the one quality or characteristic that makes that relationship go so well, without this ONE thing, it just wouldn’t be the same. Please write that ONE thing on the plate, using these markers.
q (wait for everyone)
q I am going to pick up the talking piece now, and ask that we take turns, when you have it you speak and when you don’t have it, you have the opportunity to listen and allow everyone else to listen without interruption.
q Please introduce yourself, share your name, who you were thinking, what is on your plate, and why you picked that.
q Circles are based on values, and if these are good for our relationships outside of Circle, I’d like us to have these be our values in this relationship as well.
q I am going to pass the talking piece, and ask for your commitment to honor the values, for the time we are in Circle. If you don’t feel like you can honor the talking piece and honor these values, let us know how much you are willing to commit to. I can honor these values.
q Now we can do some more getting acquainted and practice the talking piece.
q What is your favorite kind of dessert?
q What is an activity or past-time you enjoy?
(make sure your circle is ready for the next stage and people are sharing, if not add a question or two here)
Step 2. Building Relationships: The second part of the Circle is to spend some time learning more about each other. I am going to ask that you relate a story from your life, so we can build our relationship to each other.
q Can you share a time that someone was REALLY there for you? What was happening in your life, what did you need and what did this person do for you?
Step 3. Addressing Issues: The next part is the topic or issue phase.
q Have you ever experienced someone being mean to you, or addressing you in an angry manner? Tell the story and share how you felt in that experience.
q What do you do to make sure you are not being rude to others?
Step 4. Taking Action:
q The final stage of Circle is to look back on what we have done, to all provide feedback on what we experienced together.
q What did you learn here today, is there something you will do different to improve the community and your relationship to others?
q Is there anything else you need to say to leave the Circle in peace?
q Final Announcements (if it feels right, handshake, high five or hug . . . or say thank you to someone you did not know before)
q Two more Circles 3/10 & 3/24 4-5:30
q Read Closing (in your packet)
Thank everyone . . .
and . . .Thank You for being a Circlekeeper!