Restorative Circles in Universal Design for Learning

The drive of the Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) system is to make available a crisis deterrence and intercession model for residential teen care establishments that will be of great assistance in many cases such as averting crises from happening, de-intensifying possible crises, efficiently handling critical crises, minimizing potential and genuine damage to children and working supervisors, finding productive ways to cope with traumatic conditions, and creating a learning circle in the interior of an organization (TCI for Schools Training of Trainers, 2016).

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A restorative circle is a multipurpose curative practice that can be used preemptively, to build relations and develop community or reactively, to reply to misconduct and complications. Circles provide a chance to express one’s thoughts and pay attention to one another in an atmosphere of security, dignity, and equivalence. The Restorative Circle technique permits individuals to reflect on their background and express their outlooks. The circle has an eclectic assortment of determinations emphasizing the skills of resolving conflicts, making the decisions, discussing the information, and building relationships.

Circles offer a substitute for modern meeting procedures that frequently depend on hierarchy, overall standing, and present disputes (Boyes-Watson & Pranis, 2015). Therapeutic Crisis Intervention and Restorative Circles represent the cohort of the most powerful tools in the educational field and both of them are an absolute compliment to the Universal Design for Learning in terms of the flexible tactics that can be personalized and attuned to individual requirements while being an outline for developing and accepting teaching goals, approaches, resources, and assessments that would eventually work for every student.

The concept of the Universal Design for Learning

The notion of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) suggests that teaching, education and consequently, evaluation, should be available to all learning styles, experiences, and aptitudes in the teaching space. The goal of the UDL is to plan an educational environment in which all students have equivalent and sufficient prospects to be epitomized and to be capable of engaging and stating themselves just like any other student.

The key idea behind the UDL is that the teaching and evaluating practices should not emphasize the fact of accommodating students with disabilities, students whose mother tongue is not English or students who are exposed to the struggles of altering workplace, family and other vows on top of the studies.

The emphasis is on recognizing that all students study and manifest themselves in dissimilar and specific, but similarly effective ways. The UDL proactively syndicates the knowledge of brain systems with the three fundamental principles to empower teachers in forming an all-encompassing curriculum, which takes on the variety of students by refining the learning goals, approaches, and accomplishments for all students.

The context of the UDL entails that educators project learning that is deliberate, and leads to a profound understanding of subjects by the means of an open inquiry by the learners, to build a trustworthy knowledge base from the content studied, and reaching the academic targets set. When designing the UDL for the teaching space, educators must support the approaches that generate the reliable learning experiences for students with diverse capabilities, debilities, backgrounds, linguistic skills, and learning styles, by using resources and educational experiences founded on skills required, assets possessed, and the numerous aptitudes.

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By doing so, teachers produce an accurate act of inclusion for children by the means of which they can display their acquaintance with the subject in a way that is as exceptional as they are, and rejoice their accomplishments with colleagues because their education is built upon their developmental level irrespective of age or grade level (Katz, 2013).

TCIS and Restorative Circles in the UDL

The three perfect examples of the UDL that incorporates the principles of the Circles and follows the guidelines of the TCIS are daily check-ins, reflective activities, and conflict resolution.

Daily check-ins

A nice way to start up the class check-in might be by having the students make themselves comfortable and go through a sample of pre-set, low-danger questions. As soon as the trust has been reached, the circle can be of assistance in helping students process stimulating sentiments (E.g., anxiety, irritation, anguish, etc.) by giving a harmless place for students to express their feelings and dwell on the momentous events happening in their lives (Katz, 2013). The UDL design is called up to diminish the risk and upsurge student involvement, where teachers can offer various options for student expression.

Reflective activities

In terms of the UDL, a Restorative Circle can be a chance to implement the instructional activities (E.g., provocative topics in literature, present events, etc.) on a more profound level by having students express their views. For instance, a student might choose to discuss how their individual experiences are or are not mirrored in a book being read in class or how they felt an activity offered them an opportunity to exhibit a strong point or further develop talent.

As the conversation travels around the circle, students speak and listen to their colleagues while asking and responding to one another’s questions (Katz, 2013). Following the TCIS guidelines, educators can lead this process toward the learning and community fortification by asking an open question about a subject or movement and giving a list of sample sentence chunks for students to compose challenging questions and answers.

Conflict resolution

Restorative Circles can be used for conflict resolution for both definite (e.g., interpersonal conflict) and universal problems (e.g., problems with class rules). Conflict resolution circles can be planned or spontaneous (Katz, 2013). An example of a scheduled circle compliant with the UDL could embrace an approach when students would be free to submit incognito written issues during the day. A student or the teacher would then choose a problem from the container with all the written issues before beginning a planned circle.

As a group, while in obedience to the group arrangements (e.g., reciprocated respect, discretion), students work cooperatively to find a reasonable and inclusive resolution to the problem (Katz, 2013). The necessity of a spontaneous circle may get up when a conflict happens in the teaching space and relationships need to be fixed in that particular moment. The TCIS refers to the role play as one of the strategies to use within a conflict resolution as this can be an actual way for students to gain a better sense of compassion.

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Participating in Restorative Circles, students will learn to recognize and habitually use practical, optimistic ways to shape and uphold a peaceable teaching space community. They will also learn how to ask restorative questions and gain insight into conflict resolution and other forms of communiqué. The UDL will help students recognize how they are impacted by certain situations when they use effective sentences and invigorating questions. With the Restorative Circles, it will be expressively, emotionally, and substantially safe for students to share their thoughts on struggles, problems, and actions that are affecting them.


Boyes-Watson, C., & Pranis, K. (2015). Circle Forward: Building a Restorative School Community. St. Paul, MN: Living Justice Press.

Katz, J. (2013). The Three Block Model of Universal Design for Learning (UDL): Engaging Students in Inclusive Education. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 36(1), 153-194. DOI:10.1080/13603116.2014.881569

TCI for Schools Training of Trainers. (2016). Ithaka, NY: Cornell University Press.

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