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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.