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Circle Structure

 

  • Ceremony: Circles consciously engage all aspects of human experience-spiritual, emotional, physical and mental. Circles use a ceremony or intentional centering activity in the opening and in the closing to mark the Circles as a sacred space in which participants are present with themselves and one another in a way that is different from an ordinary meeting.

  • Talking Piece: By allowing only the person holding the talking piece to speak, a Circle regulates the dialogue as the piece circulates consecutively from person to person around the group. The person holding the talking piece has the undivided attention of everyone else in the Circle and can speak without interruption. The use of the talking piece allows for full expression of emotions, deeper listening thoughtful reflection, and unhurried pace. Additionally, the talking piece creates space for people who find it difficult to speak in a group, but it never requires the holder to speak.

  • Facilitator: The facilitator of Circle assists the group in creating and maintaining a collective space in which each participant feels safe to speak honestly and openly without disrespecting anyone else. The facilitator monitors the quality of the collective space and stimulates the reflections of the group through questions or topic suggestions. The facilitator does not control the issues raised by the group or try to move the group toward a particular outcome, but the facilitator may take steps to address the tone of the group interaction.

  • Guidelines: Participants in a Circle play a major role in designing their own space by creating the guidelines for their discussion. The guidelines articulate the promises participants make to one another about how they will conduct themselves in the Circle dialogue. The guidelines are intended to describe the behaviors that the participants feel will make the space safe for them to speak their truth. Guidelines are not rules and they are not used to judge people’s behavior. They are used as gentle reminders to participants about their shared commitment to creating a safe space for difficult conversation.