Circles promote belonging. They have no beginning and no end. Everyone is visible. No one has their back to you. Everyone can be seen. You belong to the circle community. You can voice your truth or be silent.
Being seen and belonging to the group are the two things our students really want.
So how do we use circles to create that sense of inclusion with them?
We use circles in all our lessons in the SocialEyes Together program®. We do our mindfulness minutes and cognitive awareness in circles. In circles, only one person speaks at a time. We use a bean-bag or some other talking piece that the speaker holds. They can pass it to the person next to them or toss it to someone across from them depending on the format of the lesson.
Circles promote the following:
- Taking turns
- Listening skills
- Emotional safety
- Cultural safety
- Having a voice
- Being heard
- Learning from others’ thought processes
- Varied perspectives
- Self reflection
- Self expression
- Self management
- Self awareness
- Social awareness
- Responsible decision making
- Relationship skills
- Problem solving
- Communication skills
- Community building
Questions are the best circle conversation starters because they invite reflection. When asking a question, make sure that there’s ample thinking time given to give your neurodiverse students the opportunity to dive deeply into their thoughts.
Here are some sample questions to ask your students to get your circles going (Remember that anyone can pass at any time):
- Who is an adult in your life who believes in you? What would they say about you?
- What bothers you the most in school?
- What would be the best day yet?
- If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
- If you could change one thing about life, what would it be?
- What are the characteristics of a good friend?
- What are some deal breakers for you in a friendship?
- How can you be nicer to yourself?
- When you experience difficult, painful emotions, what do you do?
- What would be the perfect vacation?
- Who do you admire and why?
Conversation Circles are the perfect way to bring your class or small group together to elevate their sense of belonging. Try one this week and let us know how it goes!