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Above Photo: Circling with Montessori School Students in an Andean Outdoor Classroom 2009/ Loja, Ecuador

Restorative Communication with Youth
Empathy Circle Practice 

Circle Principles:

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, eye contact and active listening to understand while suspending  judgement. 

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 for youth to experience Empathy Circles?

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 and actively listen with eye contact. 



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.

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: