Circle Time – Maintaining a positive school management system
Article: Scholastic Year 2012-2013 by Ms Brenda Cefai and Ms Pierline Debono (Nurture Group Staff)
During the past scholastic years, we have embarked on a special programme during which our goal is to promote self-esteem, respect towards others and the general promotion of good behavior. This is done by doing Circle Time which is a whole-school approach to setting up and maintaining a positive school management system. In so doing we are:
- promoting positive behaviour;
- creating a caring and respectful school ethos;
- helping children develop their self-esteem and self-confidence;
- providing efficient and effective systems and support for all staff;
- creating great lunchtimes and playtimes;
- nurturing the creativity in all people in school.
Circle Time involves a commitment from our school to set up an ongoing process of Circle Meetings for children, at which the key interpersonal and organisational issues that affect school development can be addressed. The sessions for children consist of weekly meetings lasting half an hour where children sit in a circle. Circle Time meetings for children involve carrying out activities, games and the practice of speaking and listening skills.
At the heart of Circle Time is a class meeting which involves the whole class sitting in a circle once a week to look at issues relating to personal, social, moral and health education. The circle meetings aim to encourage the development of positive relationships, self-discipline, conflict resolution, assertive communication and democratic group processes alongside the skills of speaking, listening, observing, thinking and concentrating.
Circle Time follows a clear structure over half an hour:
1) Opening game – pulls the group together, provides a sense of fun and enjoyment, used to teach learning skills, moral values and codes of conduct.
2) Round – gives everybody a chance to speak. A speaking object such as a soft toy can be used to enable a focus on the speaker and indicate that all others must listen. Examples might include:
- I find it easiest to work in class when…
- I get fed up when…
- I was pleased with myself when…
3) Open Forum – an open, free discussion phase which can be used to discuss and solve problems and set targets.
4) Celebration of successes – a chance for pupils to thank others, both children and adults, for acts of kindness etc. during the past week.
5) Closing game or song – brings a sense of closure and bridges into the next part of the school day.
The structure is designed to build a sense of class community and the teacher acts as a non-authoritarian facilitator, encouraging co-operation and creating a climate of emotional safety.
Other essential elements of the process include:
Golden Rules – a core set of values. All members of the school were involved with the discussion and establishment of these rules and all classes were issued with a copy. The rules are displayed in every classroom. The six Golden Rules cover respect for people, property and work and are explicitly taught through Circle Time activities. They are:
ö Do be gentle – Don’t hurt anybody
ö Do be kind and helpful – Don’t hurt people’s feelings
ö Do listen – Don’t interrupt
ö Do look after property – Don’t waste or damage it
ö Do be honest – Don’t cover up the truth