Restorative Practices are not a “strategy” so much as they are a lens with which to view interactions between members of a community. With that said, there are components of the restorative practices model that can be implemented fairly quickly and easily in a classroom and that pay large dividends in terms of belonging. These include affective language, formal restorative conferences and restorative circles.
As it relates to building connections between students, classroom circles can be an extremely effective strategy that doesn’t require many resources or much prep time. Classroom circles can be implemented in a homeroom or advisory period or during a regular academic period. They are also adaptable to the situation, as they can be used as a proactive community building tool or as a response to challenging behaviors or events.
This guide, an excerpt from a comprehensive Restorative Practices “starter kit,” is a great resource for teachers interested in implementing circles for the first time. It includes step-by-step instructions for introducing circles, establishing norms, and generating questions that students will discuss. One of the key takeaways is that trust is built slowly over time, and so the first circles that students participate in should be fun, engaging, and avoid controversial or intense topics.
The full guide is available here: Teaching Restorative Practices with Classroom Circles.