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The Use of Responsive Circles in Schools: An Exploratory Study

NCJ Number
Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions Volume: 21 Issue: 3 Dated: 2019 Pages: 181-194
Date Published
14 pages

Since responsive circles, a restorative practices (RP) strategy, have the potential to help improve school climate through supporting conflict resolution and community building, the current study used mixed-methods to examine how educators in four urban schools (two elementary, one middle, and one high school) used responsive circles.


Over a 7-month period, researchers observed 22 responsive circles led by 13 different teachers and rated them using the RP-Observe tool. In addition, 40 staff members (10 from each school) were interviewed. Results indicated that educators in this study used responsive circles to address issues they believed were percolating beneath the surface or incidents that had already caused harm and required repair of relationships. Although several dimensions of responsive circles were frequently observed, others were less consistently implemented. Many of the educators reported that responsive circles can positively impact students' attitudes and behaviors. Implications of the study include the need for appropriate training and support to help teachers gain confidence in and become proficient at using responsive circles. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019