Dissertation

Restorative Practices in 21st Century Schools: A Phenomenological Study of Circle Practice in an Urban High School

Restorative justice (RJ) and restorative practices (RP) are an emerging field of study in the United States. With origins derived from indigenous practices, RJ was adopted by the juvenile justice system during the 1970’s, and is within the last decade being applied to school settings. In examining disciplinary data and specific studies that examined high rates of suspensions and expulsions across the country, increasing attention is being placed on restorative methods of community building and discipline interventions to decrease punitive, exclusionary approaches. Although Circle practices (a specific method of RP) continue to become more widely researched and used in enhancing academics and/or addressing issues of conflict and harm, current literature indicates limited research around RJ and RP programs and the experiences of the participants. Through observations and interviews, this qualitative study examined the responses and perceptions participants experienced when participating in a community building Circle program. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore how Circles were used in a high school setting to build rapport and healthy relationships among students and staff. Findings suggest positive outcomes students experienced through the use of Circles and show the importance of building positive classroom communities among students and staff.

Restorative justice (RJ) and restorative practices (RP) are an emerging field of study in the United States. With origins derived from indigenous practices, RJ was adopted by the juvenile justice system during the 1970’s, and is within the last decade being applied to school settings. In examining disciplinary data and specific studies that examined high rates of suspensions and expulsions across the country, increasing attention is being placed on restorative methods of community building and discipline interventions to decrease punitive, exclusionary approaches. Although Circle practices (a specific method of RP) continue to become more widely researched and used in enhancing academics and/or addressing issues of conflict and harm, current literature indicates limited research around RJ and RP programs and the experiences of the participants. Through observations and interviews, this qualitative study examined the responses and perceptions participants experienced when participating in a community building Circle program. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore how Circles were used in a high school setting to build rapport and healthy relationships among students and staff. Findings suggest positive outcomes students experienced through the use of Circles and show the importance of building positive classroom communities among students and staff.

Relationships

Items