The use of circles as a method of communication within communities is an ancient tradition. Circles symbolise unity, inclusion, equality, protection, participation and cooperation.  Over time the concept has been adapted for decision making, conflict resolution and discussion by various fields such as teachers, social workers and the justice system.

In terms of Restorative Practices, the use of circles with students, staff and community can go a long way to build and strengthen relationships.  We want to be spending the most amount of time building social/emotional capacity within our classrooms and schools so that when we need to manage difficulties and disruptions we have people who ‘buy in’ to the process.

By actively encouraging positive relationships within all sectors of the school community we enhance:

  • Understanding
  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Acceptance
  • Belonging
  • Tolerance
  • Harmony
  • Happiness

Positive relationships play an important role in preventing conflict and dealing with conflict.  When we have positive relationships with our students they are more likely to cooperate with us, more willing to work with us in a calm manner and more likely to comply with consequences.

Circles in schools have a structured framework and are used with groups of all ages in many different ways.  It takes place regularly throughout the week, varying in length and content depending on the purpose and age of the participants.  There are rules: everyone gets a turn, individuals may pass, there are no put-downs.  Although the content varies, when used regularly (2 + times weekly) circles enhance:

  • Relationships
  • Self awareness, knowledge and skills
  • Knowledge and understanding of others
  • Emotional literacy
  • Collaborative decision making, conflict resolution and problem solving
  • A sense of belonging and connectedness

Information about classroom circles workshops can be found here.