Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Social Welfare

Content Description

1 online resource (vii, 211 pages) : color illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Loretta Pyles

Committee Members

Kelly Wissman, Sarah Mountz


Dialogue, Reflection, Restorative Justice Implementation, Restorative Justice in Education, Silence, Supporting Teachers, Teachers, Restorative justice, School improvement programs, School discipline, Teaching, Reflection (Philosophy)

Subject Categories

Social Work


ABSTRACTAcross the United States, Restorative Justice (RJ) practices are adopted with the intent to transform zero-tolerant and neoliberal school environments into cultures of care. RJ utilizes dialogue, reflection, and silence as tools to honor human relationships, build community, and respect diversity. Although it is known that school change is intricately connected to teacher change, there has been little attention given on how to best support teachers during RJ implementation. This study engaged seven teachers and one school psychologist in bi-weekly circles over a period of three months around the topic of creating a culture of care. The study inquired how teachers experienced opportunities for silence, reflection, and dialogue, and whether circle sessions were perceived as supportive to personal, interpersonal, and/or organizational transformation. Transformative learning theory was selected to understand the teacher learning experience. Practitioner Inquiry (PI) was utilized to engage teachers in activities such as envisioning, dialoguing, journaling, and co-constructing a culture of care. Teachers visualized what a caring school could look like, dialogued on creating such culture, pictured what might get in the way of manifesting it, journaled on next steps, and reflected on actions taken. Study outcomes highlighted that circle participation broke down teacher isolation, created a safe space to speak openly and be vulnerable, transformed preconceived notions of others, and helped teachers re-position themselves within the school system.

Included in

Social Work Commons