RJ Diamond

Polsky's Diamond

This strategy was developed by Howard Polsky.  The diamond is a valuable tool to assist teachers and paraprofessionals with conflict resolution and group dynamics.

Key Method

Understanding the eight components of the diamond helps the school employees to more deeply understand, communicate, and facilitate the ability to evaluate students and determine the dynamics of the peer group. It also is of great assistance in “reading” the class group with whom the teacher works.

Method Components

As students undertake an activity, the educator uses the diamond:

  • as a diagnostic tool by which behavior can be analyzed and understood
  • to  develop behavioral management and education strategies for individuals and groups, and
  • to organize and conduct classroom activities 

                                                                                                     Polsky's Diamond

                                                                        Positive                                                   Negative


Eight Social Types

The diamond is split in half horizontally into the Big Crowd (leaders) and the Small Crowd (followers). The diamond is split vertically in half into Positive and Negative types of behaviors. Students are classified within the diamond as belonging to one of the following social types.

  1. The leader carries himself/herself with assertive confidence indicated through their physical and intellectual abilities. Sometimes she/he is a silent leader.  When he/she talks, everyone listens. He/she models the normative behavior for the group and communicates in a sophisticated manner.
  2. The Lieutenant is the leader’s right-hand person/persons usually verbal and very supportive of the leader often does the leader’s “dirty work”.
  3. A Con artist is usually a person who is the communication link between the staff and the big crowd.  Always “getting over” making deals.  Has the protection of power.  Acts according to the group he/she interacts with.  The con artist often establishes a strong interactive communication flow with the staff.
  4. Isolate- Is the position that most new students take upon entering the group.  For many, this is temporary due to his/her physical strength, intelligence, and maturity.  Weak isolates will move into a small crowd.  Strong isolates will move into the big crowd
  5. Loners will keep to himself/herself as a defense against attack by the group.
  6. Gophers are the people who “go for” and will give up his/her seat, cigarettes, etc. in exchange for being left alone.
  7. Dyad is a sub-group of (2) persons who support and protect each other.  When not together, they are usually loners.
  8. The Scapegoat is the weakest member of the group.  Most everyone picks on him/her.  The group pushes most problems on the scapegoat.

Suggested Preparation

  • Observe three Restorative Justice Circles and identify the eight social types of the diamond.

Suggestive Review

  • Discuss and compare your results from the RJ Circles with other colleagues.


Supporting Research






Evidence Based Challenges required to earn this Micro Credential

Howard Polsky - Diamond

Ron Hess said, "The diamond illustrates the informal power system that exists within a group. It is the pecking order that determines the hierarchy of status within the group. In understanding this, you can read the group's dynamics, and deal directly with the power individuals in the group in order to affect evolutionary change."   It is a valuable tool to assist teachers and paraprofessionals with conflict resolution, group dynamics, and restorative justice community building. 

Submission Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria

Part 1 - Overview Questions (200-word limit )

Activity Description: After studying the eight social types (leader, lieutenant, con-artist, isolate, loaners, gophers, dyad and scapegoat) answer the following:

     1.  How would you use the Diamond as a diagnostic tool?

     2.  How would you apply the Diamond to classroom management? 

     3.  How would you use the Diamond to organize and conduct classroom activities?

  • Activity Evaluation: What three things did you learn from studying the Diamond that you can apply to your own classroom and the students you work with each day.
  • Passing: Activity description is clear with sufficient detail to the ways in which the learner can apply the three strategies to their own classroom.

Submission from Applicant

(Please enter your material in the submissions field for review) 

Part 2.  Evidence / Artifacts

  • Please watch this video:
  •      https://youtu.be/fjO6W9K-8Mw

  • After finishing the video, complete the Eight Social Types Table located in the SOLUTIONS KEY below using the following names:
  • Jon, Matt, Sean, Liane, Melissa, Nicole, Dollene, Monica, Janett


Student works clearly and demonstrates learning from applying effective reasoning strategies through: 

  • Accurately identifying at least 7 of the 8 students and their social types.


Student work demonstrates learning from applying the reasoning strategies through:

  • Accurately identifying at least 6 of the 8 students' social types.


Student work demonstrates learning from applying the reasoning strategies through:

  • Accurately identifying at least 5 of the 8 students' social types.

   Copy this chart to Solution Key Section

Submission from Applicant

Eight Social Types
Name Associated
Con Artist
Dyad (2 people)

Part 3. Teacher reflection

Provide a reflection on what you learned, using the following questions as a guide (200-word limit):

  • How was your response to learners impacted because of using the diamond as a diagnostic tool?  Please site two concrete examples. How will this diagnostic tool improve your teaching strategies in the future?  Give at least two examples.

Passing:  Teacher leader successfully reflects on how he/she responds differently to his/her students when using the diamond as a diagnostic tool with students.  Activity description is clear with sufficient detail, including at least two examples, to how teaching strategies will improve using the diamond as a diagnostic tool.