Connections Quarterly Winter 2019 - Restorative Practices - Page 22

C I R CLE P RAC TICE Continued from page 19 not feel attacked. Circles create a space to talk honestly about hurts or pain, free from shame or attack. Circles Promote Self-Regulation The discipline of the talking piece requires self-regulation. The payoff for self-discipline and not speaking when someone else has the talking piece is the power that comes with holding the talking piece. The talking piece distributes power around the circle, al- lowing each person to feel positive personal power when they are the holder. Young peo- ple learn that it is possible to feel personal power without taking it away from someone else—a critical social-emotional skill. The opportunity to share difficult feelings often releases the power of those feelings to shape behavior. Once spoken in a rela- tively safe space, negative feelings have less grip on the person. Speaking our frustra- tions, annoyances, and fears can provide emotional release allowing our brain func- tion to move out of the amygdala into the higher cortex. When done carefully, circles can create the level of safety needed for emotional release. Circles Promote a Sense of Collective Responsibility Collective Responsibility is sorely needed in all sectors of our society. In circle, the impact of individual behavior on the collective be- Page 20 Winter 2019 comes more visible. Conversely, the impact of the collective on individual behavior be- comes more visible. With a clearer picture of that interactive impact and with the dis- tribution of power created by the talking piece, we can access collective wisdom for living together in a way that respects and balances both the individual and the col- lective needs. With increased power comes increased responsibility. Circle encourages shared responsibility for the quality of the rela- tionships and the environment in a school. Everyone is responsible—not just adults. Circle engages this responsibility by invit- ing students to identify the shared com- mitments necessary for living together har- moniously, and by engaging the students in collective problem-solving in a positive atmosphere when things go wrong. It is a tough time to be working in schools. It is also an incredibly hopeful time to be working in schools. Schools are a key socializing institution in modern societ- ies, and are generally the most important socializing institution outside of family. Schools have an opportunity to effective- ly change the cultural habits of the next generation. One of the largest threats to modern so- cieties is the lack of skills to live together well—the skills for building a culture of peace. Teaching these skills is just as impor- tant as teaching math and reading, and it turns out that these skills increase the abil- CSEE Connections