Talking Circles used in the classroom help plant the seeds of change. In order to have a truly restorative culture we have to make sure the youth who are privileged are just as invested as those at a disadvantage. Ideally, we want students to grow and learn restorative practices together. So how can we do that equitably?
One way is to offer restorative spaces that honor freedom of expression. Even if students start off reluctant to join and shy you are still planting seeds by showing the value of creating safe spaces. All it takes is one person, popular or student leader, to step out of their comfort zone and lead by example. Soon their entire social group or classroom is engaged in active listening. Sitting in a circle as equals allows participants to foster a sense of belonging. It no longer matters, in that moment, who has the "most". What matters is the storyteller and how their experiences either mirror or contrast with your own. This, in my opinion, is one of the most effective ways to build empathy...learn by listening, grow by telling your story.
The sweet spot for any talking or healing circle is a group of 5 -15 participants. This number allows every person the opportunity to go deep and take time telling their story. Don't worry if you host a circle at your school and only a few people show...those are your seeds (and ALL seeds grow)!