Building Positive Relationships in the School Community
Proactive Sharing Circles are the first step in building a restorative school community. When used consistently and with intention, they foster trust, mutual understanding and a shared set of values and behavioral norms (common guidelines) that can lead to stronger relationships among members community. Circles also promote development of important social skills, as well as academic and leadership competencies. Staff and students can then draw on these skills to prevent wrongdoing and effectively manage conflicts when they arise. Sharing circles might involve only students, students and school staff, or only school staff.
Sharing Circle Guidelines
- Everyone sits in a circle with all included.
- We use and respect the talking piece (an item that is passed around the sharing the circle, identifying the speaker) to ensure every voice is heard and only one person speaks at a time.
- We use "I statements" to share peacefully without naming or blaming others."I am upset about..."
- "I want to talk about..."
- "I am really proud about..."
- We speak and listen from the heart with patience and care.
- What's said in circle, stays in circle—to create safety and trust for everyone.
Commonly used in sharing circles, these ideas may also be helpful for use at home:
- Create more opportunities to talk and catch up with one another.
- Ask your children about the sharing circle guidelines/norms.
- Make your own "talking piece," such as your child's favorite stuffed animal or toy, and pass it around when having a conversation.
- Ask quick "check-in" questions before or after school or at the beginning and end of the week.
- Here are some ideas:
- How was your day or week on a scale from 1-10? Why?
- What is something you are grateful for today?
- What was hard about today?
- What is hard for us a family? What's positive about our family? What do we do well? What do we need to work on?
- What's one thing on your mind today?
- What's one positive thing that happened to you today?
- What's one positive thing you've done for someone else today?
- What's one interesting thing you did or learned today at school or work?
- Share one word that sums up your feelings right now.
- Tell us one thing you would like to do differently in the next week?
- Regularly share affirmations (positive comments that you can say about a person).
- "What I appreciate about you is..."
- "I like the way you helped..."
- "Thank you for..."