Above Photo: Circling with Montessori School Students in an Andean Outdoor Classroom 2009/ Loja, Ecuador
Restorative Communication Practice
Acknowledging First Nations Pedagogy - Talking Circles
"Talking Circles or Circle Talks are a foundational approach to First Nations pedagogy-in-action since they provide a model for an educational activity that encourages dialogue, respect, the co-creation of learning content, and social discourse. The nuance of subtle energy created from using this respectful approach to talking with others provides a sense of communion and interconnectedness that is not often present in the common methods of communicating in the classroom. When everyone has their turn to speak, when all voices are heard in a respectful and attentive way, the learning atmosphere becomes a rich source of information, identity, and interaction." (Reference: http://firstnationspedagogy.ca/circletalks.html)
Circles honor both the uniqueness of each individual and the emergence of the collective.
All are equal in circle; leadership is shared.
Safe space is created by speaking from the heart, and active listening to understand.
Listening is directed both to individuals who are speaking, and also to the themes, connections, collective wisdom that is emerging within the created by the circle.
Silence is a significant strategy; periods of silence allow for individuals to integrate their experience, and to stay grounded and engaged.
The Circle forms a container that can safely “hold” conflicting viewpoints and diverse perspectives.
Circle Values create a quality of engagement with one another that is respectful, non-judgmental, and appreciative.
Why is it important to practice restorative communication?
The Circle is an operational symbol of inclusion, intentional communication, emergence, equality and community. The circle setting establishes respectful guidelines and expectations to create a safe relational space and place where participants can talk openly. Educators are inspired to set goals to immerse regular restorative practices in their indoor and outdoor classrooms.
Above left: Laurie hosts an Early Childhood Educator Workshop at Algonquin College (Perth Campus) to assist ECEs in the adoption of restorative communication practices in the indoor
and outdoor classroom.
Above middle: Calling a restorative communication circle as a core routine in the outdoor classroom with the Early childhood Education Program, Algonquin College- Perth Campus.
Above: Restorative circle facilitation with elementary students./ Maple Grove elementary school with Lanark County Community Justice.
Restorative Circle Discussion for the Elementary School Outdoor Classroom:
Restore the Soil: The importance of soil building
Is topsoil a renewable resource or a nonrenewable resource?
Enjoy a wander in the wonderful world of mycelium and return to the circle to discuss the interconenctive mycelial network beneath our feet. Imagine how mycelium's interconnectedness may biomimic a community's capacity to exemplify a gift economy.
Restorative Communication Objectives for Educators
i. Educators and administrators commit to collaborate to find ways to encourage their colleagues and students to identify, process and express emotions and needs with others in the restorative circle format.
ii. The circle provides a platform to assist people (students and educators) to better understand themselves, provide opportunities for social - emotional awareness, and leave the circle feeling valued, noticed and connected as a contributing member of the circle.
iii. The Restorative Communication Circle practice establishes a safe climate to turn conflict into collaboration.
iv. Educators pay attention to situational goals while collaborating with colleagues to co-create a plan of action for their classroom and school community. Educators with a shared intention to meet needs with a measurable agreement to provide continuity and follow through which promotes community culture and well being.
v. Whole School Approaches: If educators/ administration do not exercise restorative communication practices to resolve their own conflicts- students know this.
vi. Goal of Whole School Approach: Establish a Restorative Communicator Lead Teacher in every school community to ensure continuity of restorative communication practices in every classroom. Whole School commitment to a weekly check-in circle on Mondays, and weekly check-out circles on Fridays in every classroom.Time is set aside at staff meetings to practice restorative circle guidelines while debriefing in-class experiences with colleagues.