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What is Restorative Circle?

Japanese Teacher, Sensei, leading a restorative circle class.
Zachary Semple
Japanese Teacher, Sensei, leading a restorative circle class.

Every Wednesday during seventh period, freshmen students go to one of their core teachers’ classrooms. It’s not like a regular double period, where students have an extra core class period; it’s a brand new program known as restorative circle.

Math teachers Ms. Schleissmann and Ms. Hachikian were the first teachers trained by the Morningside Center. After receiving the training, the DOE paid for all ninth-grade teachers at the Museum School to be trained by the Morningside Center in the summer of 2022. Starting this school year, restorative circle was added to all freshman schedules.

According to their website, “Morningside Center works hand in hand with educators to build students’ social and emotional skills, strengthen the classroom and school community, and make our schools more caring and equitable through restorative practices and brave conversations on race.”

Ms. Schleissmann said that restorative circle was created as a way to “promote mental health and SEL” (Social Emotional Learning) and to make sure that each student is “a well-rounded person, rather than just a good student.” The goal of the class was to “help create community and create bonds,” as described by Ms. Dworken, the ninth-grade Global History teacher.

Restorative circle is not just the name of the class, everyone sits in a circle and the class is built around discussion. Circles are currently in a unit on active listening, and the curriculum was designed to have students “discussing difficult topics and have a safe space to discuss things that they might be experiencing,” according to Ms. Schleissmann. The course builds skills like active listening and community building.

Restorative circle provides more to students than just listening skills and a relaxing break. Ava Lapidos, a freshman in Ms. Dworken’s circle, noted, “It’s a good opportunity to get to know people.”

Ms. Dworken said, “I really love the opportunity to connect with students outside of our regular classroom or even our double periods.”

Freshman Elisa Gallota, a student in Ms. Wynn’s circle, stated, “It’s a fun break from school and kind of relaxing.” 

As of now, the administration has not announced plans to make restorative circles a permanent program or to expand the class to other grades. However, Ms. Schlessimann said, “I think that’s where we’re headed. One thing that is tough is that it is kind of a weird class to participate in, and I think that it’s weird for ninth-graders to experience. In my circle, there’s some laughter, there’s some chatting, and I think that comes from being uncomfortable in the situation.” 

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About the Contributors
Peter Martin, News Writer
My name is Peter Martin. I cover news affecting Museum School and the Chelsea neighborhood. My mission is to inform the school community about what affects them.
Zachary Semple, News Editor
Hi! I’m Zachary Semple, a News Editor for the Gallery. I hope to help cover the voice of the Museum School community regarding current events. When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time with friends, video editing, and exploring New York.
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