The Power Of The Circle

The circle has many historical references probably none more meaningful as the significance to the traditions of our First Nations’ People. It is a very powerful formation as it represents the importance of each and every person in the group. There is no start or finish to a circle as well as representing the cycle of life for both nature and humans. I use the circle in my classroom for all classroom discussions, meetings and as a morning check in and day end check out.

During circle time the students are facing each other, taught how to demonstrate a good listener position and become more engaged in each and every discussion. The key message the circle sends is that each and every person in that circle is important and valued  for their ideas, who they are and the voice they will share with the rest of the group.

My first month of school is the time when the circle is introduced and the procedures that will be used during circle time. It is like any other beginning of the year activity, it requires a lot of work and consistency in the beginning. I use a variety of adventure based programming activities to further support the concept of how powerful the circle is in our physical education classes.

Over the course of first term there is a gradual release of responsibility to the point (at this time of the year) the circle is lead most often by the students. It becomes a tool for everyone in the room and not just the teacher. Last week a student asked to have circle time so that an issue that had taken place during the fitness break could be addressed and resolved.

Many times I am asked how do you use the circle in a classroom full of students, desks, support material and other classroom materials. My best answer to that important question is that if there is a will, there is always a way to make it work. Through both creative classroom design and the establishment of effective routines, the transition from regular classroom to circle formation can become seamless. I highly encourage you to research more about the traditional circle and how it may become a strategy in your classroom.

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The Author

Mike Beetham

I am currently entering my 32nd year of teaching and work with the Waterloo Region District School Board in an area behaviour class. I am actively involved with ETFO at both the local and provincial level. My passions are my family, teaching, the outdoors and personal fitness.

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