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Culture and Climate

Restorative Practices

Restorative Practices refer to the practices that support the building of relationships, the reparation of harm and the ability to self regulate. These practices may include sharing circles, topic circles, restorative circles, peace circles, restorative conferences, mindfulness practices and use of the Zone of Regulation.

View/download Restorative Practices Information for Families (PDF)

View/download Las Practicas Resaurativas (PDF)

View/download Family Restorative Practices Strategies

Echoing Indigenous Traditions Around the World, All Circles Are Restorative by Nature, They Foster...

In Circle, each voice is given an opportunity to speak, and each person is listened to with focused attentiveness.

Every perspective is valued as meaningful to that person.

Participants must wait to speak, listen without responding immediately, and delay their own need to speak. This is not our usual way of talking. It takes a lot of self-discipline.

Each participant is exercising self-control to make the Circle possible.

In Circle, no one is more important or has more rights or power than anyone else; even if they choose not to speak, no one is invisible and they are still participating by actively listening.

The expectations are the same for adults as they are for the students.

Circles are a space for practicing responsibility with both words and actions. They physical structure of a Circle encompasses a nonverbal form of accountability.

There is no hiding behind the desk and no one is behind anyone else's back.

In Circle, we are nurturing and developing our capacity for empathy - our capacity to connect to, mirror and learn from others.

There is greater opportunity to reflect on what you and others are feeling and to talk about your feelings than in normal conversations.

Circles carry an assumption that every participant has something to offer and is important for the good of the whole group.

We're operating from a place of confidence in the innate capacity of humans as a collective to work through difficult places without expert help.

Shared Leadership
The Circle allows the gathering of differences, holds space for multiple perspectives and recognizes the existence of multiple truths. Every member is a leader and owns the decisions of the Circle.

The Circle is a practice of civic discourse and fundamental democracy in which ALL voices are heard and ALL interests must be treated with dignity.

Our Common Circle Guidelines

Our Common Circle Guidelines are the most important component of our restorative work in District 65. They form the social structure of the Circle and serve as our building blocks for developing healthy relationships and school communities. Each one represents a critical pro-social skill and life lesson that students acquire naturally through their participation in the circle process. The guidelines were first identified in collaboration with the EPD Youth Services and are based on shared values and behavioral norms practiced in circles around the world. Common guidelines help establish consistency in our circle practice across schools and influence our interactions both within and outside of Circle.

Everyone Sits in a Circle. In Circle, we face each other and our discussion is focused and centered in the middle of us. Symbolic objects that remind participants of shared values can be placed in the middle.

We Use a Talking Piece. Only the person with the talking piece has the right to speak; everyone else listens. The talking piece is possed around the Circle from left to right, never across, so everyone has equal opportunity to speak without interruption. Everyone's voice matters.

We Listen from The Heart with patience and care.

We Use "I" Statements: We talk about and share our own thoughts and feelings. They help to build empathy. Circles are intended to encourage self-exploration, without naming, conquering, debating, blaming others.

What's Said In Circle, Stays In Circle except in cases where safety is a concern. Privacy helps us to feel comfortable and safe to share about ourselves. Circle discussion comes from the heart and should not be gossiped about. If a Circle member needs to talk about something that was said in Circle, s/he can talk to their teacher or talk about their concerns in the next Circle.

The Zones of Regulation


Moving Slowly 


Feeling Okay
Ready to Learn 


Loss of Some Control 


Out of Control 

Our Common Guildelines

Everyone Sits in a Circle speaking face to face with all included.

We Use a Talking Piece (when applicable) to ensure every voice is heard.

We Speak and Listen from the Heart with patience and care.

We Use "I" Statements to express ourselves without naming or blaming others.

What's Said in Circle, Stays in Circle to create trust and safety.

The Standard Restorative Questions

For Challenging Behavior

  • What happened?
  • What were you thinking at the time?
  • What have thought about since?
  • Who has been affected by what you have done? In what way?
  • What do you think you need to do to make things right?

To Help Those Affected

  • What did you think when you realized what happened?
  • What impact has this had on you and others?
  • What has been the hardest thing for you?
  • What do you think needs to happen to make things right?

(Real Justice Conference-IIRP, 2007)