November 1, 1999
By Sue Coast
This post has been moved from its original location at PeerSpirit.com and archived here, so you can continue to access it.
Each month The Circle Way offers an illustrative story of how someone is effectively using circle practices and principles to change or enhance a gathering, team, committee or other group in business or personal life.
We are privileged to pass on the work of circle to many people. Some people integrate the form quickly into their daily lives. Others find the integration more subtle and long term. But we have probably never seen anyone take the idea into as many places in one day as educator, Sue Coast, of Colorado Springs, Colorado did the day after returning from our August 1999 five-day Circle Practicum.
Sue’s courage and enthusiasm is both contagious and inspirational. She is a walking model of the philosophy, "Just try it!" Thank you, Sue, for your good work!
I was back at work in my middle school counseling department. At 8 a.m. we had a staff meeting where I introduced checking in by putting something into the center. The process has deepened our relationships both personally and professionally. Our teamwork has improved tenfold as well as our communication and consideration for one another. We meet once a week in council faithfully bringing forth our symbolic items to the center.
At 10 a.m. that first morning back to work I then introduced circle at our safety committee meeting. At first the idea came forth to put band-aids into the center. But then we realized symbolically that we wanted to prevent problems, so we put a hat with the school motto over the band-aids which symbolized our primary intention for prevention and our ability to respond in the event of an emergency. This group easily gets off task so we frequently have brought attention and intention back to center. The group is filled with independent types who have loved rotating leadership and sharing responsibility.
My principal was very curious to learn more about my experience, so I invited her to participate in a circle with me and the president of the teacher’s association. We had lunch together in circle at noon. She was very impressed and agreed it would be a valuable asset to our school to introduce the idea and process to the whole, which I am still doing. She also committed to using circle process in our administrative meetings, which we have done twice now.
Later that day (I know a good idea when I see it!) Tammi (who was also at the training) and I introduced the idea to our teacher’s association meeting with all the representatives. The Circle Way circling has set a new tone and direction in collaboration for our association. Three days later the president and I brought the "Circle of Friends" ceramic to the new superintendent’s office and introduced the idea to him. The first meeting went very well and he was very receptive. The second meeting didn’t feel as good, but we will regroup and focus again on the principles and practices.