Problem Solving Circles
The use of Restorative Approaches in schools means that staff needs to look at discipline in a different way. First of all, when a conflict does arise, teachers no longer ask “WHY?”, but rather “WHAT HAPPENED?”. This little change in the language makes a big difference. When a student is asked the question” why?”, they feel like they are being accused of something. They are much more likely to share their side of the story if you ask them what happened. Secondly, when a conflict arises all involved participate in a problem-solving circle, where they will address the 5 questions:
• What happened in your own words?
• What were you thinking at the time?
• Who has been affected? In what way?
• What impact has this incident had on you and others?
• What do you think needs to be done to make things right?
The focus of a problem solving-circle is to repair the relationship that has been harmed and not the rule that has been broken. This is a significant change
on how we deal with behaviour. Using problem solving circles is an important piece in assuring a sustainable change in a school’s culture.
By solving conflicts restoratively, students feel that they have an opportunity to be heard. They learn to take responsibility for their actions and they
have the chance to restore their relationships. Restorative Approaches also requires that a student thinks about more than him/herself, and that they start to realize how their actions affect others.