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Hello- I’m a head teacher in a very small school, (with 8 students), in rural Scotland, We have been using Circle Solutions this sessions as a whole school from p1 – p7. This, certainly, has challenges. However it has been greatly enjoyed by the children. Their feed back is very positive, and the growth, slow, but there!
I would love to hear from anyone who is using CS in such wide age groups and small sized schools. The challenges are unique, but not unsurmountable. We have had to adapt some of the abstract concepts for the young, supporting directly etc. Going good… but I’d really like to see what others are doing especially with small group games, or multi-composite learning.
Hello Sue, I hope you don’t mind me posting here. I am about to reinvigorate Circles at my school. Most teachers have been trained and those that have not been trained, I will endeavour do so as soon as possible in Term 1. I am wondering how to reinvigorate it- I am thinking of suggesting of coming into classrooms (if teachers wish) and facilitating two Circle sessions, with the teacher present. Teachers can then plan the third session, keeping much the same format, but changing one activity (or more) if they wish. Does this sound ok?
I am also wondering if I can plan Circles that can indeed match aspects of the Personal, Social and Community Health of HPE from the Australian Curriculum? Or have I got the wrong idea? Open to feedback. I simply want to not only foster the wellbeing of our students, but also of our teachers. Thank you.
I have a horrible feeling I didn’t reply to this. It came in the day before I left for Australia and got buried. I don’t always check this website. Emailing me direct is always the best bet. Anyway, you can of course plan Circles according to your needs and if this includes the PSHE curriculum that would be fine so long as all the activities are paired or small group, not individual worksheets. It is the principles that matter. I like your ideas of going into classrooms to support staff – you might also like to have a ten minute slot a month at staff meetings to share good ideas. The teacher toolkits for the Wellbeing Stories will have lots of Circle activities. Be ready around the end of the year.
Apologies again for such a slow response, Sue
Circle Trainer Melissa Rowe shared with us this mindfulness / meditation script written by one of her students, Chloe:
I believe in using circles for so many aspects of my teaching. So much so that I have arranged my room so I can have a circle (students sitting on the floor) within 10 seconds. All the desks are permanently pushed against the wall and much of the bulky furniture has been removed. Students store their things in a book bag that hangs on the back of the chair.
One parent commented that they didn’t like the idea of their kid staring at a wall all day! Their misconception being that students should remain at their desk all day, that they should be always looking at the board from their desk and that having a narrower space to focus when concentration is needed is a bad thing.
I reassure my parents (and supervisors) that this environment allows for seamless movement around the room for myself and my students. It is easy to train students to look at me if I need to stop them when they’re at their desk. Instructions happen on the floor, in groups, outside, standing up and rarely at their desk. The days of chalk and talk teaching are long gone.
I am really glad I went with my instincts and changed my room to a very unconventional style. I have parents on board, they like my philosophy. I have other staff curious about how I make it work and I have students who are free to move around.
What I’d really like are a room full of node chairs but they are $445…..each!!!!!! http://www.machabee.com/product_type/active-learning-spaces/
Wish I had a rich sponsor who would help me to keep pushing the boundaries for our students by funding all my creative ideas!!
I would love to know what others do with the restrictions of your physical space.
Positive Feelings: Sharing Stories – this is a good activity for students from mid primary upwards.
Divide a piece of paper into six squares. Write one of the following in each square
Happiness: Find something that makes you BOTH happy
Excitment: What has been an exciting event for you recently? What happened?
Safety: What one thing makes you BOTH feel safe
Achievement: What have each of you done recently that you have been pleased with?
Relaxation: What three things can you discover between you have you know reduces stress
Courage: Have you ever done anything that took courage – that you were a bit scared of but did anyway? How did you feel afterwards?
My lovely friend and colleague Alison Soutter shared these ideas with me today.
!. BALLOON STRENGTHS: Have enough balloons for each person in the Circle. Inside each balloon place a strength affirmation, it doesn’t matter if you have several the same. They can be things like “you have been kind to someone this week” “you help others feel cheerful” “you have courage” “you show you are learning” . These will depend on the age of the participants. The students blow up the balloons and then at a given signal they throw them in the air and without touching them with their hands see long they can keep all of them in the air. (you may want to do this in smaller groups who compete with each other) When everyone has had a turn each person takes one balloon and bursts it. They then take out the strengths affirmation. They think for a moment about how this might apply to them and then each person in turn stands up and gives his affirmation to someone else. When someone has an affirmation they either sit with their arms folded on on the floor. This ensures no-one is left out.
2. BUBBLE BREATHING: Give a group a bowl of water, some washing up liquid and some paper clips. The group uses the paper clips to make a bubble blower. Everyone in the group has a turn to blow a bubble – being mindful of this activity – how they are breathing, watching the bubble grow and appreciating its beauty.
Bethany Knights, a wonderful teacher from St Thomas’s, Mareeba, shared the ‘Smiling Mind’ website which takes students through relaxing, empowering guided meditation sessions. A great way to end a Circle. The meditations are worth it for young and old alike. Thanks Bethany!
Just come across this Ted talk buff.ly/1uj43pj which is well worth a watch. I have been thinking about how Circle Solutions can grow ‘solutionaries’ – giving students a space to imagine and find answers to issues in their lives. Personal, interpersonal, whole school – community and perhaps even beyond.
This research article by Tim Murphey and Septina Nur Iswanti entitled Surprising Humanity: Ideal Classmates in Two Countries (Japan and Indonesia) shows that what we do in Circle Solutions applies across the world! http://bit.ly/1lt148h
Belly Breathe: Just come across the great little Sesame Street clip teaching kids the value of breathing for emotion regulation. They will love this. What a great closing activity.
We are seeing the positive effects of all classes holding circle time at least once a week. This is the core of our engagement strategies. We now have sets of the Car Cards and the Fish cards which are great topic starters. I have used these cards in several contexts, even Toastmasters!
Thanks Kathy, you are the first person to use our revamped site! Really pleased to hear that things are going well. Sue
Learning: 1. To show that different experiences can lead to similar feelings. 2. to talk about feelings in a safe way 3. To practice listening skills
Using photos such as the Picture This cards from Innovative Resources or the Yarnabout cards – or just ones you collect. Spread them out in the centre of the Circle and ask students to choose one that might make someone feel ONE of the following emotions (it is a more powerful activity if all students are looking for the same feeling): happy, sad, proud, worried, excited, scared. You can of course expand this list according to the age, stage and needs of your students. The example here is ‘excited’. Each student tells their partner why they picked this card up and everyone listens carefully because partners feed back to the Circle for each other – eg. Max picked up this card because the seaside can make someone feel excited – Becky picked up this card because visiting a fairground recently made her feel very excited.
Comment on how well everyone listened to each other and that excitement can be found in lots of places, doing lots of different things. You can then ask students to think about how excitement makes them feel inside and is that a good feeling to have.
Extension Activities: What makes any situation exciting? What might make learning exciting? What can we do to make this classroom an exciting place to be? Should school always be exciting or would that be exhausting? What other feelings are good to have in a classroom?
David had students not wanting to move chairs for Circle sessions because they had their ‘own chair’. When they were able to put their name at the back of each chair they were happy to reclaim their own at the end of the Circle! !