Student voice is an essential part of building a classroom community. Class meetings allow students the opportunity to share ideas, give feedback, and have input into class activity and classroom culture. It also provides the class a space for the community to come together.
As long as there has been fire, communities all around the Earth have met in circles. Circles support culturally supportive pedagogy as they are grounded in indigenous practice. Coming together as a class to check in, discuss ideas, share opinions, problem solve, or enjoy a collaborative game, helps build a student-centered community where kids feel valued and heard.
“The Circle has healing power.
In the Circle, we are all equal.
When in the Circle, no one is in front of you.
No one is behind you.
No one is above you. No one is below you.
The Sacred Circle is designed to create unity.”
Dave Chief, Oglala Lakota
When setting up your circle routine, there should be some clear rules or guidelines.
It is a good idea to have a talking stick or feather (or some significant object) to help facilitate and allow respectful turn taking. The talking object usually starts with the teacher or meeting facilitator (this role can alternate amongst students as they become more familiar with the routine and expectations of class meetings) and then travels clockwise around the circle.
When the object is held, the speaker is expected to:
* speak honestly and from the heart
* speak with respect for others
* try not to speak at length
* speak to issues of the circle
All circle members:
* are respectful of all members of the circle (mutual respect)
* listen attentively
* speak kindly; no put downs
* have the right to pass or participate
New! Class Meetings During a Pandemic
Rebuilding positive, safe and inclusive learning communities will be imperative as we welcome students back into the classroom (virtually or in person) during a pandemic.
The First 10 Days of Morning Meetings (K-6) is a FREE resource offered to educators by the Center for Responsive Schools. The grade-specific documents provide detailed plans for your Class Meetings, in response to COVID-19.
Pick one student who is the “student of the day” and write their name on chart paper. Students will then sit together and reflect on the strengths and positive qualities that describe the Student of the Day. The teacher can record the compliments on the chart paper which can be sent home with the student at the end of the day.
Slightly older primary students can be asked to write their name on the top of a single piece of paper. The sheets are passed around to other students in the class who will write a compliment that is specific about the student who has their name on the top of the page. Each student can take home their sheet at the end of this activity.