Now that you have established an appropriate tone , you are ready to run your circle. Remember, a successful restorative circle is contingent upon the facilitators utmost awareness during the process. Paying attention to relational dynamics during the circle and allowing time for personal processing at the end ensures that you maximize the benefits of restorative circles.
While running the circle, make sure to pay close attention to individual reactions and interactions between members. Does it feel “safe”? Are people respecting each other? Is anyone being excluded? Who are the leaders? Who has the social power to seemingly change the tone whenever they want? Give the members an opportunity to reflect and share on how they have been impacted by the circle experience. Outside of intentional bullying or potentially harmful situations, you should simply observe and take note of most of these dynamics. You are gathering great data on how participants are functioning as a community and you can use this data to determine how to use future circle experiences to connect, challenge and change your community for the better. Again, it’s all about relationships!
Finally, to feel more comfortable and confident in running restorative circles, take time to engage in personal reflection and processing. As with any skill acquisition process, time for feedback and review is critical. Here are a few processing questions to use to help you increase your confidence as a circle facilitator:
- How am I feeling? Did I feel comfortable and confident?
- Was I prepared?
- Was I clear with my expectations/directions?
- Did I notice anything I was proud of? Concerned about?
- What will I do about this?
- Did I address all concerns and disruptions?
- Did I draw attention to positive dynamics?
- Did anyone dominate the process or did all share equally?
- Did the task involve appropriate depth/risk?
- Was there a consistent, positive tone?
- What does this circle experience say about how my class is functioning as a community?
- Will I do anything differently next time? Keep the same?
- Do I need any further support?
Make sure to take note of your responses to these questions and use them as a reference point when initiating future restorative circles. Remember, change and progress occurs when consciousness is activated!
Stay tuned for part 4 of this series!