If after reading this month’s feature story you became inspired to create classroom meetings using The Circle Way, Youssra Badr shares the following tips from her experience.
Tips for Using The Circle Way to Create Community in Classrooms
Intention and Modeling
Know your intention for the class meetings and share this with students. Explore what they might contribute so the intention and its realization are “shared.”
Be fully present in the meeting, students will follow your lead.
Involve students in the finalization of agreements. You may be surprised at what they add, and how they follow the agreements throughout the year.
Know that agreements can be adapted or modified throughout the year.
Invite students to place something special in the center, if the meeting topic lends itself to this. It builds group ownership and respect.
Ask students to contribute a talking piece.
A talking piece helps students respect the process and makes it easier to point out that only the person holding the piece can hold the floor.
“Fidgets” are a great talking piece especially for nervous speakers as students focus some energy into the piece.
Check in and check out
Your check in question will set the tone of the meeting, so be intentional with your question and model the type of response you would like from students.
Check out can be some form of self-care, - what will you do for yourself until our next meeting? Or a goal - what do you hope to accomplish before our next meeting?
Make things as easy as possible, getting into circle should be quick and easy, practice if needed.
Put it on the daily-weekly class schedule.
Make it a priority.
Model, model, model.
If not “compliments,” call them “appreciations,” “acknowledgements, “shout outs” or whatever students best relate to.
Use a pattern to ensure no one is left out, i.e. have students compliment the person to their right or left, either the person who just spoke or the person who is set to speak next.
Class Meeting Agenda
Can be anonymous or not.
Focus on solutions.
Great for discussing future plans, encourage student input.
As much as possible, integrate curriculum into class meeting conversations.