For my Action Research Project this year, I have decided to implement circle process as both an instructional tool and a classroom management strategy.
After hearing of the breadth of research supporting the use of circles in the classroom, I was highly intrigued, and curious to see if it would work with the Grade 6s and 7s in my placement class. Circle discussions have frequently been found to be extremely beneficial for the emotional, social, and academic well-being of children. Students also have a unique opportunity to bond with one another, and to increase their self-confidence in a safe, non-judgemental space.
I recently pitched the idea of circles to my afternoon Associate Teacher, and was thrilled to learn that she too was on board. Although the children in this class often do not handle transitions between activities very well, we agreed that we would be able to find a time of the day to make circle time less hectic, and decided to host the first discussion at the end of the afternoon last Tuesday.
Armed with a small and soft Spiderman ball as a talking piece, I got the class quiet, and explained the basics of circle time.
- This is a safe space, and we will be respectful of all of our classmates when they are sharing. This means no put-downs, judgements, or hurtful laughing during someone else’s answer.
- We will only talk when we are holding the talking piece, in order to give every student a chance to respond.
- You ALWAYS have the right to pass.
For my first go at circle time, I hosted a short, very simple sharing circle. I asked the kids to describe how they were feeling using one word, to name the best part about the school day, and to share one thing that they learned during the day (school-related or not). Overall, I think that this first try went relatively well. There were a few children who passed every question, but most of the class participated, with the majority offering one or more answers. Additionally, the rules of circle time were respected, with the exception of a few brief interruptions.
I personally feel as though this particular group of students can greatly benefit from the connection and ownership over their ideas and learning that circle process can give them, and I am very excited to try it again with them in the upcoming weeks.