Tomorrow marks an exciting day for Anderson. For over a month, we have been working with our students who attended the ADL's "A World of Difference" institute and the Restorative Practices workshop in November. In homeroom this Thursday, these students will begin facilitating community building circles in freshman and sophomore homerooms around our school. Once they model these conversations for three weeks, they will move on to new homerooms. By April, all of our underclassmen will be practicing peer-led conversations around topics that they have chosen each week.
In order to prepare for this big day, we ran Instructional Coach meetings as circles. Then, for our Professional Development on February 15th, we invited the faculty to participate in these same community building circles. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Faculty were put in randomized groups of about fifteen to match the numbers of our homeroom classes. At the end of the meetings, teachers from around the school were "surprised by everyone's openness" and "so happy to have time to connect with people [they] rarely get to see." We hope that our students will be as pleased with the chance to connect to their peers.
This switch to community building is still very much in line with our SEL goals. Self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and self-awareness are very much a part of sharing and facilitating a conversation about issues that face our students today. Responsible decision-making comes into play as students choose to keep conversations confidential, and to support each other in the "real life" of school outside of homeroom.
In case you are wondering what one of these circles consists of, here are instructions.