RAFT Process and Protocol

RAFT stands for Relationships Among Families and Teachers, and the goal is exactly that: to occasion a student-centered conversation between all who work with a student in order to start to develop a meaningful relationship. RAFT is essentially a guide for a conversation. We developed it for families who were new to the school system and who had come to the US as a refugee, but we believe it could work to develop relationships surrounding a wide variety of students.



Get People Interested: A key component of RAFT is that everyone present wants to be there and knows what to expect from the process. Therefore, a key starting place is for everyone who could participate to understand that the option exists. Make sure people know about RAFT and its purpose!

Make Sure People Want to Participate: Everyone involved must agree to participate. Repeat: it must be voluntary! And, all involved should have reasonable expectations for what can come out of this process.

Provide Training: Someone at the school can do the training for teachers and families, or you can provide the links to the trainings we have already produced. These are available in English, Swahili, Arabic, Nepali, and Mai-Mai.


Facilitation: A facilitator who is not contributing to the conversation has the important job of keeping the conversation going, taking notes, asking for clarification, providing a summary, and keeping track of time.

Location: RAFT should occur where the family is most comfortable. For the families involved in our research, this was usually their home. Teachers also appreciated being in their students’ homes. This also enabled more than one family member to participate (even a sibling or grandparent), especially when there are other children in the home who could not be left unattended by all adult family members going to school. Some families prefer to do RAFT at the school or another community setting (e.g., library).

Talking Piece and Circle Format: RAFT adopts a tier one restorative circle process to ensure that all participants have equal opportunity for participation. Participants sit in a circle in order to see each other well. The facilitator or family provides a talking piece that is held when speaking. The person with the talking piece can choose to pass, but those without the talking piece are listening. Please see below for how we suggest handling this detail when working with an interpreter. The facilitator chooses how many times around the circle the talking piece goes (i.e., how many opportunities are given to each participant to respond to any given prompt), if anyone can ask for the talking piece (and, if so, how), etc.

Liaisons/Interpreters: Liaisons and interpreters may have a complex relationship with this process. They may know the child, family, and teacher very well. It is important to separate what they contribute to the conversation from what they interpret for a family or teacher. Therefore, the facilitator can choose a sign that the interpreter uses to show when s/he is interpreting rather than contributing his/her own thoughts. We have used a small flag for this purpose. When the interpreter is interpreting, s/he holds the small flag and the speaker holds the talking piece.

Centerpiece: Borrowing again from the tire one restorative circle process, a picture of the child/student helps ground the conversation. This picture could be provided by the family, teacher, or drawn by the student (or someone else).


The purpose of Project RAFT is to build relationships so we can work together to support this child’s success.

RAFT Prompts:

  1. Who is ________ ?
  2. Who should be involved in _______ ‘s education and how?
  3. What are your hopes for _______ in general, long-term?
  4. What are your hopes for _________ this year?
  5. How can we work together this year to make these hopes come true?
    1. What can the teacher do?
    2. What can the family do?
    3. What can the student do?
    4. What can others do?
  6. How should we continue this conversation?
  7. End with a summary of responses and ways forward.

© Haines and Reyes, 2019