Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Magic Circle

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel"
             -Maya Angelou



I've seen various versions of this saying through the years and I am not sure who said it first but I truly believe it- with adults as well as with children.



I love Emi's last post and I like the Council that she talked about. Very early in my career I took a class/workshop called, "Magic Circle." There was a topic for each day, such as: "Tell us something that makes you happy," or "Tell us about a time when you felt mad," or "Tell us about something that you are good at doing," etc.. It was all about listening to others with care and with no judgement, trusting others by taking turns talking and listening and then repeating to that person what you heard them say.

Magic Circle created a lot of trust and empathy in the children. You could pass when it was your turn to talk if you wanted to. I use past tense because I don't do it as often anymore. I do parts of it (using my own words and "listening language") but with more and more academics on our "teacher plates," and less and less DAP (Developmentally Appropriate Practices) being practiced and appreciated, it is hard to fit everything in. I do some Magic Circle in our Morning Meetings: listening, respect, repeating etc., but I miss the half hour that I used to devote to it. It also created a really close knit group of kids each year who really understood and felt empathy.

I work hard on teaching about and feeling empathy for others and ourselves and I strive to make sure that they know that they all are-just right!!.  We read books and have discussions about empathy. I also teach them what to say and do to stick up for themselves.  We discuss events and issues from recess and the classroom and how to handle them in productive ways. We role-play to find alternative solutions to altercations. I teach my students what to say when someone does something that they don't like. "That's not nice. Don't do that, I don't like it."  And after an apology, I teach them to not say "That's okay."  - because it isn't - if it were okay then the other child might feel that they could do it again. I teach them instead to say after the, "I'm sorry." "Thank you, please don't do it again."  It really makes me feel good to hear the kids use these words and feel their own power when they need to. 

With all that is going on in our world today every one of us needs to feel joy in our own strength and goodness while at the same time appreciating and feeling empathy for others.
Hmmm... I may need to find time to start squeezing in more Magic Circle to my day.



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