Circles by their very structure convey important ideas and values without the need for discussion:
- Equality – Literally everyone in the circle has equal seating.
- Safety and trust – You can see everyone in a circle, so nothing is hidden.
- Responsibility – Everyone has a chance to play a role in the outcome of the circle
- Facilitation – the circle reminds the leader to facilitate rather than lecture.
- Ownership – Collectively, the participants feel the circle is theirs.
- Connections – These are built as everyone listens to everyone else’s responses.
A Basic Community Building Circle has three primary components:
- Call to circle: Arrange the space so there are no tables, acknowledge aboriginal territory, and remind the class of circle guidelines.
- Check-in with a talking piece in which all students are invited to respond to a question. Students always have permission to pass.
- Close the circle with a small gesture or word of thanks to signal the shift from circle time into ordinary time.
Questions asked in circle could be questions such as: “What pet do you want or have?”; “Talk about something someone did in your class this week that you appreciated?”; or “If you could be a superhero, which superhero would you choose and why?”.
How can it become a part of everyday school life
Circle can become a part of regular routine / check-in in the classroom and takes little time and resources to implement.
BC’s renewed curriculum identifies physical, mental, and emotional well-being as the big ideas of the Physical and Health Education curriculum. Circle as a practice is an easy way to address the mental and emotional learning standards of this curriculum. Likewise, circle can address all three core competencies. For instance, it provides students opportunity to communicate orally (communication), one comment leads others to evolve their thinking about the question (thinking), and sharing allows students to get to know one another (Personal & Social).
Communication and Personal & Social
- Heart Mind Online features Check in Circles and Validation Circle, as well as general resources
- The Open Circle Approach as featured on Social and Emotional Resources Finder and at Open Circle
- The Centre for Restorative Justice at Simon Fraser University provides training and resources
- Tribes, or Tribes Learning Communities (TLC), provides resources to support teachers in building a classroom community, including through circle time.