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Processing Impactful Events: Restorative Connection Circles

The power of a Restorative culture is that it has the capacity to develop a community based on relationship and respect. Schools that adopt the Restorative perspective cultivate safe spaces for students to discuss daunting and even frightening topics and events.

The challenges we face in our communities and in our world today call for methods to help us all process pain, fear and trauma in a way that helps us all feel more connected and recognize we are not in this alone. Taking the time to show that we understand and empathize with our youth is an essential step to cultivating authentic relationship, one of the cornerstones of restorative work.

To that end, connection circles are an effective method for promoting understanding, sharing experiences, empowering youth voice, building relationships, and establishing a sense of community.

Even for schools without an established daily circle practice, a basic understanding of using circles can ease the challenge the most teachers face in leading classroom discussions on difficult topics.

Here are a few suggested questions for leading a Restorative conversation around a recent impactful event. Starting with one or two connecting questions establishes the trust to move forward into questions designed to explore deeper emotions:

When I feel sad I…

I feel most safe when…

Where were you when you heard the news?

How did it make you feel?

How do you feel now?

Who do you think has been affected by this incident?

What do you need to feel safe and supported?

Holding Restorative circles to address a topical issue and help students process is just one specific use of an important element in Restorative Practices.  For more information regarding becoming a Restorative school and implementing Restorative Philosophy and Culture fully, please see The Conflict Center’s Restorative Practice Five Strategies and/or contact us for additional information.

When conflict happens in the workplace or people experience inappropriate or difficult behavior at work, relationships are damaged and productivity often suffers.
Workplaces that embrace Restorative Practices have the potential to create a safer, happier and more effective workplace for everyone. Restorative Practices can be used within the workplace both as a preventative measure and to address conflict when it does arise, enabling teams and individuals to work well together.

Restorative Practices can be an effective way to resolve workplace conflict. It involves:
  • bringing together all those affected by conflict
  • providing a safe environment for the expression of perspective
  • allowing participants to come to a shared understanding
  • identifying creative ways to deal with conflict
  • providing opportunities to rebuild damaged relationships and strengthen teams 

Restorative approaches can also be used proactively within the workplace to build strong, positive relationships. Staff meetings, for example, can be focused on building relationships and based around a foundation of mutual respect.
To discuss opportunities to bring this training to your workplace or to customize this training to your organizations needs, please contact Jessica Sherwood at Jessica.Sherwood@conflictcenter.org or call 303.865.5624.