Talking circles are the primary process for using Restorative Practices in schools to create a Culture of Care. Basically the process involves the use of a Talking Stick, where the person holding the Talking Stick does the talking, while the other people present listen. The Talking Stick is passed around the circle, allowing everyone a chance to talk, but without the requirement to talk.
The drawing to the upper left is shown to honor the origins of the Talking Circle with Native Americans.
The video shown below the drawing is of a keynote address given by Dr Tom Cavanagh, June 7, 2016, in Buffalo, New York.
Restorative Circle Tom Cavanagh, Ph.D. The Restorative Circle process combines the 4 questions asked in the restorative conversation with the circle process that was discussed in module 5. Restorative Circle Script Welcome to this Restorative Circle. I am the facilitator of the circle. The co-facilitator is ____. Restorative Circle is the name given to a process based on the philosophy of restorative justice, which is focused on healing the harm to relationships resulting from conflict or wrongdoing. The underlying values of the Restorative Circle are: (1) leadership and power are shared (everyone in the circle is equal and has an equal opportunity to speak), (2) participants have direct visual contact with each other and are encouraged to speak directly to one another rather than to the facilitator or co-facilitator, (3) peace building is the focus, (4) interconnectedness of all participants is encouraged, (5) respect and accountability are required, (6) participation by all is necessary, and (7) inclusion and mutual responsibility for the circle are indispensable
Ground Rules In this Restorative Circle process certain ground rules are established so a safe place can be created where people can come together, with a trained facilitator, to discuss the behavior(s) that is creating a problem, the impact of the behavior(s) and mutually agree on how to: (1) heal the harm resulting from the behavior(s), (2) restore the group, and (3) reintegrate the persons affected back into the group. The following ground rules are used at the Restorative Circle, upon agreement of everyone: (1) listen when others speak (use the talking stick); (2) speak with honesty and from the heart; (3) use words that are respectful and not offensive; (4) while everyone is encouraged to speak, no one is required to speak; and (5) what is said in the circle stays in the circle (except for the written report and mandated reporting). What else would you like to change or add to these ground rules? Does everyone agree to these ground rules?
Open the Circle I will now open the circle. We will begin by talking about the problem and our thoughts and feelings that resulted from the problem. The co-facilitator of the restorative circle will keep notes of our conversation. Let's begin passing the talking stick. (The four questions that need to be asked should be framed in a manner similar this and in this order.) 1. What is the problem? Coming to agreement about what is the problem among the participants in this restorative practice is often the hardest part of the conversation. However, it is critical that consensus be reached among the participants as to what the problem is by coming to agreement as to how to name the problem. 2. What are the effects of the problem, on the persons involved and the community as a whole? The answers to this question need to be framed as “I” statements. These answers need to include emotional, psychological, and/or physical effects. 3. What is it like when the problem does not exist? The response to this question is meant to explore the ideal situation, when the problem no longer exists. 4. What can I/we do to move from this being a problem to that more ideal place where the problem does not exist, reconciliation occurs, and harmony returns to the community? In this answer a plan of action is agreed to and perhaps written down so it can be referred to later. Agreement We will now work on an agreement that is acceptable to all of us. Let's begin by having the co-facilitator of this Restorative Circle summarize the notes made during this circle, emphasizing any possible solutions to the problem that were discussed. Let's now pass the talking piece and talk about solutions to the problem, particularly related to healing the harm to relationships resulting from the problem. The co-facilitator of the Restorative Circle will write those on the tablet, and everyone will be asked to sign the agreement. Closing Now that we have an agreement, let's reflect on this process. • How do you feel about the Restorative Circle process? • Are you satisfied with the outcome? • Do you feel ready to call a Restorative Circle and act as a facilitator of a Restorative Circle?