Today I had the opportunity to be a part of a group running a whole class session on sharing circles. Typically, as all early years teachers would, I would do sharing circles on a daily or weekly basis with a grade 1 and 2 class. It provides time to meet as a group, to have an opportunity to share and most importantly listen to each other. A sharing circle helps build a sense of community where students become comfortable enough with one another to share their own personal narratives be it about an event that occurred at home or something that they learnt at school, the possibilities are endless!
Now back to the sharing circle session… The group we were presenting to were all adults and all pre-service teachers from the middle and high school streams of our education program. The prospect of doing a lesson that I would do with a group of grade 2’s with a group of adults made me nervous. I thought that it would be painful and boring for the class.
Boy was I wrong…. It didn’t bomb, the class was receptive to the presentation and were completely willing to share in the sharing circle . We prefaced the circle by reading The Seven Teachings By David-Courchene (a beautiful kid friendly story on the Aboriginal Seven Teachings) and asked everyone to think about how they could connect with the story in a personal way. As each person shared their connection to the text we had them hold a ball of yarn which they passed to the next person while they held the end.
Everyone had the right to pass but had the responsibility to participate by listening to their peers. The people in my group focused mainly on connecting their expectations and hopes for their upcoming practicum session with one of the seven teachings in the text. It was amazing to see how people were willing to share and connect with the text in very personal ways. Some shared their fears surrounding practicum, some shared their hopes and some shared some of their nuggets of wisdom. As the process continued a web appeared in the circle, giving a clear visual representation of how we are all connected and that although we all come from different places we all have something in common.
So if ever you are looking for a way to break the ice or reconnect a group of people consider the power of a sharing circle.