Using Dialogue Circles to Support Classroom Management (Transcript)
Edwina Smith: Before I started doing Circles in my class I found it very difficult to start the academic day. Students had things that they wanted to share that had happened with them, things they were concerned about, and I had a very long line of about thirty-- twenty-five to thirty students every morning wanting to share personal time with me. It made it absolutely impossible to start the academic day. After the presentation of Circles in our staff development I knew that would be the best way to have each student share and be heard in the classroom.
Here at Glenview every teacher holds Circles for classroom management, for resolving conflicts and also to involve students in activities. Every day I begin with mindfulness to really get the students focused and centered and ready for learning.
I’m going to need you to either close your eyes or to look gently at the ground.
The next thing I do in Circle is a check-in with a scale from one to five. This allows me to assess whether or not they’re ready to learn.
Okay, I’m a five and I have a lot of things I need to get done today, but I’m looking forward to getting them done. Would anyone else like to share why you’re a five today?
Student: Today I’m a five because I can’t wait for Spirit Week.
Student: I’m a one because my head still hurts from Sunday.
Edwina Smith: In order to keep order in the circle we use a talking piece, which is a symbolic piece to signify who has the floor, who’s able to speak. At the beginning of the year I asked the students what topics they feel as a class we need to discuss. The students write the topics and we place them in the cup.
Oh, our next topic is going to be about stop bullying. How can you stop bullying?
Student: Well, I think since most bullies bully through pain you can try to see if you can help or make them feel better.
Student: If you see someone getting bullied, stand up for that person and tell the bully firmly and strong to stop bullying.
Edwina Smith: I like the idea of not being a bystander, ‘cause that’s somewhat being part of the bullying process if you see it happening and you don’t say anything. But it takes a lot of bravery, a lot of courage to say, “Hey, that’s not right.”
As part of a program called Restorative Justice, Circles are also used to resolve conflicts that come up during the school day.
Student: Sometimes at recess Sidney and Marnie would come over and, like, just start talking about us and saying mean things about Denai.
Teacher: Is it your job to make Denai’s job at school hard?
Teacher: So you choose to either be the bully that you’re being or to be someone’s ally--
Teacher: --and make a better choice.