Why Classroom Circles?
Updated: Aug 15, 2018
Our first week lessons focus on setting up classroom circle meetings, but that isn't all we have to offer!
Classroom circles build community and allow the class to respond to harms through dialogue and problem solving. Through these lessons you can develop a space with clear ground rules for the complex work of social learning to take place. In these first lessons, the classroom community will have established agreements about how to participate in a circle meeting. Over time, as procedures are used, and as relationships are built, students will be able to use circles to start calling attention to issues and conflicts and request help on their own. Through your reflective work, circles will be emotionally, psychologically, and physically safe for students to share concerns about conflicts and behaviors that are affecting them. Adopting practices that build trust can lead to students having honest, authentic, discussions about issues in the community. It is incredible to see the students ultimately take ownership over their own well-being and the well-being of the community.
The first month of the new school year is difficult because the classroom community hasn’t been built. I don’t feel apart of a community yet, so I’m sure the students don’t either. When kids are “testing boundaries” they’re trying to figure out what behaviors are acceptable and what consequences will occur. When I first started teaching, I stayed away from circle meetings because I thought they were for younger kids, and I frankly, didn’t think I had time in my schedule for something like that. Over the past few years I’ve learned how imperative classroom circles are for all ages.
In my classroom, there is no built-in time for classroom circles. What’s worked for me in the past, is to teach the kids to unpack, complete morning procedures, and move into a circle before announcements come on. Then instructional time isn’t used up. So, our very first resource debuting on our website are the first five lessons for the first week of school. Some of our resources lend themselves to be used in the community circle, while others will be unrelated to circle meetings. Establishing this practice will give a forum for this kind of important work. Enjoy!