Council in Schools

Council In Schools provides training and support for educators to use council and restorative justice practices to inspire engaged, compassionate school communities.

Council – the practice of listening and speaking from the heart – has many applications in schools. As a relational practice, council is a powerful social and emotional learning strategy that promotes an environment of trust, respect, and understanding in the classroom and school. Council invites students to share stories from their lived experience that establish connections and appreciation of differences among students and between students, teachers, and other adults at the school. As a mindfulness practice, council helps students become more aware of themselves and others. As an instructional approach, council creates a context for exploring standards-based curricula and making it relevant and engaging. As a leadership strategy, council provides opportunities for educators to mine the collective wisdom of groups and take informed, considered action. As an essential community-building practice, council also serves as the foundation for restorative justice in schools. Where there is no community, there is nothing to restore.

With its roots in the ways of indigenous peoples the world over, who gathered in circles to share stories, the way of council was developed over the last 35 years by Jack Zimmerman and Gigi Coyle, educators and co-authors of the book The Way of Council, Joe Provisor, educator, CIS founder, and author of the forthcoming book Teaching and Learning in Circles: The Way of Council in Schools, and many other teachers, educators, facilitators, and trainers affiliated with The Ojai Foundation, CIS, and various Los Angeles-area schools.

Council is an evidence-based practice underpinning academic growth, social-emotional learning, restorative justice, youth rites of passage, and what students themselves want to learn. School-based organizations work to implement and sustain council and restorative justice programs tailored to the specific needs of each school, training educators in the adult practice of council, as well as in the art of facilitation in the classroom. Other services include:

  • school-based program planning
  • educator and administrator council training and mentoring
  • restorative justice intervention training
  • youth council leadership training
  • restorative conference facilitation
  • parent, family, and community council facilitation
  • professional development for educators
  • youth retreats and rites of passage
  • educator retreats
  • training and mentoring for interns who wish to become school-based council carriers.

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