Mini-trainings in River Falls Wisconsin

RFSD Restorative Practices and Circle Training

Wednesday, Nov 7 and Friday, Nov. 9 2018

Location: River Falls Public Montessori

Facilitated by Kris Miner Schweigert of Circle Space Services

Restorative discipline and practices provide a foundation for schools looking to move from a punitive discipline model to a restorative model that helps build and strengthen relationships which allows for intrinsic behavioral change. It also approaches discipline from a community based model rather than a hierarchical model. It also addresses the needs of all member affected by behaviors, not just the offender and victim. Talking Circles are the vehicle that this restorative approach uses to involve all members in the community to build and sustain a community of learners.


Peacemaking Circle 101 – Wednesday 4:00 – 8:000 (or 4-8 pm)  (40 participants)

Restorative Practices in schools begins with building community using Peacemaking Circles.  From the Classroom Circles the process can be expanded to be used for conflict resolution, academics and staff development.  This session will provide an overview of Circle process, examples of how to implement circles in the classroom. This session is an overview and a refresher on Restorative Practices and Classroom Circles.

*Light Dinner will be provided


Circle Keeping Fundamentals Friday 8-12 (20 participants)

The role of a Circle keeper appears to be simple since the process is inclusive and gently guided.  However, there are specific concepts, tools and techniques to ensure the process is effective and restorative.  This session will provide participants specific skills, format, technique and instructions on setting up and facilitating Peacemaking Circle process.


Restorative Practices Conflict Resolution Friday 1-4 (20 participants)

Conflict is school settings occurs daily and can have deep impact on the learning community and social climate.  Viewing conflict restoratively and responding in ways that promote accountability & healing (restorative practices) help reduce the negative impact of conflict and reduce future incidents.  In addition to Circles, there are other methods to approach and respond to school conflict. This session will provide options that begin with 1:1 conversations and those that involve using Circle process.

To register:




Restorative Justice Peacemaking Circle Advanced Training

Please join us in River Falls, Wisconsin in October.  On the 23rd and 24th, an advanced practice, School-Based Restorative Justice Circle Training will be held.  The two-day training will feature discussion, reflections and ideas for developing effective Keeping skills and for using Circles in a range of applications.  The 2nd will feature co-trainer Catherine Cranston, who have been using Circles since 2006.

Seats are limited, and the registration deadline is October 3.

Please see the flyer for more details and the registration form: Adv Circle Training Oct 2014


There is also a Circle Training at SCVRJP on October 9 & 10.

If your school would like to host this training please contact me!

Circle Keeping, brain science connections.

St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program (SCVRJP) has delivered 1,000’s of Circles and trained 100’s of people in Restorative Justice Peacemaking Circle process.  Circles in kindergarten classrooms, museums, prisons, college campus, fire departments, churches and many at the Restorative Justice Center.

As our program demands grown, the need to teach people the art of Circle keeping has grown.  As a non-profit working alongside criminal justice systems, the need to be “evidence-based” is crucial.  Having great outcomes, it is important to maintain the success.  These means teaching others how to do powerful, meaningful, effective Circle keeping.  I have focused on this for years.  The increased demand in training requests, partnered with the requests to do a two-day training in half-a-day has caused me to be analytical in the delivery of quality training, effective skills and targeted strategies for Circle keeping.

At a recent training I shared the technique of contracting or expanding my explanation of Restorative Justice and Circle.  In the very beginning before the opening reading, when starting I suggest doing this.  A training participant asked me more about what I meant.  I explained speaking longer or shorter, and monitoring the emotional climate.  I was asked again what I meant.  I realized I had developed my “feeling” for it.  My intuition had developed from doing Circles so often.  The second nature of Circle keeping is living and expresing the values of Restorative Justice.

Right then in the training session, I started explaining what that meant.  I talked about body posture of others, eye contact, how I was feeling.  What are the clues to “knowing” when we are ready to start Circle.  I used words like: trust, calm, connection.  Today I found what it is by brain science!

A HUGE ah-ha!  In reading Words Can Change your Brain, by Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman, I noted the 12 Strategies of Compassionate Communication and powerful and making a TON of sense in the context of Restorative Justice.  I had to see if I could find a handout for this afternoons training.  It led me to learning the neural resonance also called neural coupling is a speaker-listener brain based connection!  THAT is the element to use when monitoring your Circle for emotional climate!


Restorative Justice Peacemaking Circle Training for Veteran Support.

Beginning January 15 and concluding on February 7, this blog will feature posts on applying Restorative Justice Peacemaking Circle process to the support of Veterans, Veteran family members and community volunteers.  This area and application for supporting healing, reintegration and restorative justice principles has been in the works for me for years.  The first formal training is scheduled for February 10 & 11, 2014.  Please click here: Veterans Circle Training Feb 2014 for the flyer.  You can also save this pdf, and then email as an attachment.

To bring this training together, SCVRJP has partnered with a dynamic program  in Northern Minnesota, the Eagles Healing Nest.  For a story that aired on my birthday: and the Eagles Healing Nest Website:

Join us for the training or consider arranging a training in your community!  If you have a program to feature, I would be happy to link to your program in the February 7 blog post.  Email me your questions of topics for the Restorative Justice Veterans Support blog features at

Thanks and have a Happy New Year!


Restorative Justice Training and workshop information.

SCVRJP generates revenue and support by providing training to outside agencies, school districts, and conferences.  I’ve been traveling since 2006, doing contracted Circle Training.  Agencies can also set up specific training to their specific need.

Topics for training include:

Restorative Justice Approaches & Outcomes (1 or 2 days)

Victim-Offender Conferencing (2 days)

School-based Restorative Justice (evening or 1 day)

Restorative Justice Circle keeper Training (2 days)

Restorative Measures in Schools(1 day intro, 2 days for skills)

Circle mentoring and coaching(1 day- 2 days)

Workshops – for a specific conference

Phone consultation and Follow up trainings are also available.

This document provides additional details: SCVRJP Training Information

The next Circle Trainings is June 21 & 22 in River Falls, WI.

Arrangements are pending, SCVRJP will be providing Circle Training in Sioux Falls South Dakota September 18 & 19.  Contact Kris at for more information.

SCVRJP will also be providing Circle Training in River Falls on Oct 4 & 6.


Trained teachers offer what Restorative Justice Circles “bridge”.

  I appreciate Sharon Bowman, she has a resource-filled website, great articles and books.  If you follow her on LinkedIn, great powerpoints shared.  Friend and mentor, pictured here, helped me learn how to work and train teachers.  In turn I teach all I can about Circles to her.  She recommended Sharon’s book, the 10 minute trainer.  The activity produced some great results, both in the flow of the training and the reinforcement of Restorative Justice Circles in schools.

I appreciated the side effects of using activities and exercises when training.  The audience is more engaged, the individual perspectives and understanding of the information is reflected by the activities.  The unpredictable-ness feeds my spontaneous style.  I can add a story, or go with explaining concept and it appears in response to the room conversation (vs my deviation from a planned agenda or powerpoint).

This post is a summary of what a group of teacher trainee’s developed in response to the exercise of completing the sentance: Circles are a bridge between ___(blank)___ & ___(blank)___.  Before this exercise, the training group had experienced a circle, heard an introduction on restorative justice and covered the basic facilitation skill-set.  Just a shameless plug – I am happy to provide a training for your district or agency, click here.

Circles are a bridge between . . .

Hurting & Healing

Having a Voice & Being Invisible

Hostility & Harmony

In Individual Heart & Community

A Problem & A Solution

Your Frown & Your Smile

Challenges & Solutions

Fears & Security

Chaos & Harmony

Conflict & Harmony

Conflict & Reconciliation

Whitewater Rapids & Reflection Pool

Peace & Chaos

School & Stewardship (& back, like a Circle)

I have to give this group an A+!

Consider this list an endorsement for the potential Restorative Services outcomes.  How would this list impact your school culture and climate?

St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program – planned sessions for 2012

St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program in River Falls, WI provides a range of Restorative Justice Services for our community.  Click here for look at 2012: SCVRJP 2012 color calendar.

Locally, SCVRJP addresses public health concerns like teen driving, underage consumption, controlled substance use – by offering Circle sessions.  SCVRJP also offers Victim Impact Panels, for those earning driving privlidges after a conviction for drinking and driving.  Trained volunteers offer stories during sessions, community volunteers offer Restorative Justice, by participating in non-judgemental, supportive services where the impact of choices is shared by experience.  The session descriptions: 2011 sessions.

SCVRJP also provides Restorative Response – which is a program that offers support to those impacted by suicide and sudden, traumatic loss.  SCVRJP, is the lead agency working to provide informal support services for survivors and distributes the Grieving Families Guide.

Trainings are available at our River Falls location or on a contracted basis.  Training can be provided on Restorative Justice, Restorative Justice Circles, School-based Restorative Justice, Classroom Circles or topics needed by your agency.  Contact Kris Miner at SCVRJP, email: or 715-425-1100.

SCVRJP relies on donations, service fees and grants.  Your support is appreciated.  There is one annual fundraiser, the WALK for AWARENESS, scheduled for July 28, 2012.

New volunteers are welcome!  Please contact us if you are interested in joining our team!

Sample Circle script, a guideline that does not replace training.

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?


Opening Reading

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!

Restorative Justice Training for Circle Facilitators requires 4 elements.

Stages of a Talking Circle

I love Circle-Keeper training.  Teaching others how to facilitate the process.  I feel like I was trained by some of the best, Kay Pranis, Jamie and Oscar, Linda Wolf . . . and equal teachers:  the girls in Ramsey County Juvenile Detention, the girls in the Amicus Girls Group, youth at the alternative school, the 1,000 or so other cases and Circles I have facilitated.

I have been facilitating my own Circle trainings since 2005 and as time marched on I have evolved, improved and crafted a training that brings both the gut emotional contact and the head the concrete steps for “how”.  I’ve merged in activities for teaching specific concepts, one of which was an experience as part of the team at the USD Counseling Center.

The most recent training was AWESOME!  Each training session is my favorite.  There is something so Spiritually fullfilling about connecting people to the power of Circle.  I’ve narrowed it down to 4 key elements.  This is what I believe is necessary to really get a good, deep Circle and Circlekeeper training.

1.) The Circle itself.  This seems a little obvious that you would be participating in the Circle.  Its deeper than that.  Its experiencing something new within yourself about something old.  Its talking about an experience in the supportive space of Circle and realizing something new about it.  This takes the facilitator technique of moving people into a space to share these experiences.  Before you move there, you create the space.  The concepts are covered while engaging people to use the process.  The results are powerful.  Circle itself includes: Values, Talking Piece, Storytelling.

2.)Keeper Confidence.  As in any Circle, the keeper has a tremendous influence on the climate.  When training its really, really important to remain grounded.  I have lots of time in Q & A, it seems everyone stays engaged in this segment.  I give open honest responses.  I tell stories as most of my answers.  I have a story for almost every single concept.  I put ALL credit back to the Circle.  This validates for the learners that the process is powerful, and as long as they know the process, they will be fine.

3.)Activities.  Lots of activities for applying the concepts.  In 2 days we have a “give-away”, made talking sticks, planned circles, and make written hug sheets for everyone.  We had deep story-sharing times and reflection rounds.  The group got to connect by working in small groups.  The learners were emerged in the process by doing.  When I pushed the non-crafty types to craft, I reminded them, we never change IN our comfort zone.  You need to step out a little and try something new.  Keeping Circle can be risky, taking calculated risks by have risky experience in the training is important.  It reinforces to learners they can do it!

4.)Engage the future.  Ask often where people could see Circle used, ask where in their life could they have used a Circle, project hope on the future.  Someone said if the world could be in Circle for 24 hours, war would disband!  I grab newly trained people for volunteer experiences.  I point out how I made up Circles just to get Circle keeper practice.  I make sure we are talking about applying our new skills.  I make sure to cover specific points of facilitating.  I give questions to use at stages, I make sure that keepers have both a compass (gut experience) and map (format).

So these 4 key elements – those are the 4 stages of Circle!  Look back over them and you will see they align with these stages!

I have to thank everyone who has ever been in one of my trainings!  I learn and grow from you!  Special thanks to all the teachers!  You are the ones who really pushed me to get context into the training.

Circlespace – Restorative Justice Classroom Circle training

Upcoming Trainings available.

CESA 7 in Green Bay – Nov 18 & 19, Course description and more courses on the CESA webpage.

Trainings for 2010 that will be held at the Restorative Justice Center – January 21 & 22 and April 15 & 16.  Limited seating, and the workshop investment is $200.00, which includes lunch, snacks, handouts and a certificate of completion.

Contact the Restorative Justice Center at 715-425-1100 to register.  You can also email me at

I am also available for on-site training.  These trainings can be specialized to meet the needs of your school, agency or community.  For training rates and packages, please see the Training Fee Schedule 2009.  The packages are listed on the left and the investment on the right.

I also do workshops, keynotes and conference presentations.  Please contact me if you are interested.  References are available upon request.

In April 2009, I presented on Restorative Jusitce in Schools for CESA 11, in Turtle Lake, photo below:

Kris Miner
Kris Miner