Weekly Tribes 2014-2015: The Power and Versatility of the Community Circle

In an upcoming 90 minute webinar, Tribes and Restorative Practice, attention to the value of a community circle will  be a dominant topic. Here are some ways you can use a community circle for Inclusion, Influence, Community, and to “advance curricular goals and build ‘social capital’ at the same time.” (Restorative Circles in Schools, 2010)  The following suggestions come from the book, Restorative Circles…, as well as my own compilations from experience and sharing with other Tribes educators:

  • Check In / Check Out – set expectations/reflect on actions
  • Introduce a topic – social, emotional, academic…What do you think about…How do you feel about…What do you expect to learn or do…?
  • First Day of School (or on Monday?!) Students are invited to look around the room, and at the teacher, and form a hypothesis based on that observation
  • Possible or real behavioral issues (Ex:  ‘What has influenced you to [be positive/negative].
  • Model and practice I-messages and Affirmative Statements
  • Energizer or Strategy (Zap, Electricity, Something Good, Wishful Thinking, Zoom, 10…)
  • Set expectations for an upcoming ‘event’…even if it is just going to the restroom
  • Introducing a new community member or visitor…as well as saying good-bye.
  • Appreciations and Apologies

The circle is a potent symbol.  Its shape implies community, connection, inclusion, fairness, equality, and wholeness  (Restorative Circles in Schools, 2010). The daily community circle is step one in implementing the essential protective factors that foster resiliency: caring and sharing, participation and positive expectations. (Reaching All by Creating Tribes Learning Communities). Can’t take the time to rearrange seating for a community circle?  Keep it simple and use the circle in a standing formation and practice it with brief questions, even a thumbs up/down.  Practice and consistency will make everything more successful and meaningful.