Morning and/or Closing Circles help students start and end the day (or class period) by building caring relationships with their peers and teachers. Students who participate in social and emotional learning activities have shown significant improvement in academic achievement, social behavior, and attitudes about self, others, and school, and also exhibit fewer conduct problems and less emotional distress (Durlak et al., 2011). Circles can also be used at any time of day, for a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to, conflict resolution, idea sharing, team building, problem solving, and getting to know one another.
This Classroom Circle Handbook was created and compiled by the Office of Social & Emotional Learning for Summer Bridge 2015 in the Chicago Public Schools. It is provided as a reference for more ideas and information on using Classroom Circles.
Source: Developmental Studies Center
Source: Caring School Community/Developmental Studies Center
Questions To Get Acquainted and Build Trust During Circles/Class Meetings
1. Share a happy childhood memory
2. How would your bestfriend describe you?
3. What would you not change about your life? Why?
4. If you had an unexpected free day, what would you do?
5. What do you respect? Why?
6. What change would you like to see in your community? What can you do to help this change?
7. What was a time you were out of you comfort zone? What did you do?
8. What is it like when someone is angry at you?
9. What do you do that usually makes someone smile at you? How does that make you feel?
10. How do you fill up your heart?
11. Who is a hero of yours, from real-life or movies, why did you pick this person?
An elementary example that illustrates how circles/class meetings can build community, practice SEL competencies and allow teachers to earn quality academic time throughout the day.
A high school example showing a Habits, Community, and Culture (HCC) class designed to help students learn habits of success and build SEL skills. Academic teachers at the school also use some of these activities to build SEL skills and deepen their relationships with their students.