More schools are finding that alternative discipline and restorative circles build trust and curb misbehavior.
At least one time each week, first graders at Evergreen Elementary School in Rohnert Park move their desks into a circle, where they discuss feelings, worries, and practice positive communication, such as giving and accepting complements. It’s a safe place to share. No one teases, ever.
“It’s the only time I get to say something and nobody can laugh at me or tell me something that makes me feel bad,” said 7 year old Jamie Dorvilus.
Restorative circles are popping up all over the country in schools, partially because of efforts by agencies like Restorative Resources and the Sonoma County Office of Education. These agencies are training educators in the practices and techniques of alternative discipline and restorative circles.
“It helps them concentrate more,” said Jamie’s teacher, Mandy Hilliard. “(And) it makes me more sensitive to what’s going on with the students.” When kids face problems, they can vent in the circle, and the problems do not carry over into their schoolwork.