I teach Intro to Restorative Justice at UWRF, and I our class format is the Circle process. I LOVE it! The students love it. In three semesters of teaching it, I have only gotten one student that didn’t like the process. Anyway . . .
I came up with the “getting acquainted” question off the top of my head. I asked what winter clothing item, do you most enjoy wearing. It was the last class of the semester so about the 16th Circle for this group. I was impressed and struck by how connected we became over articles of clothing.
A student just a few seats to my right, turned up his jeans at the ankle, and talked about loving his flannel jeans. Of course I thought how I always wanted to get a pair of those. The talking piece was across the Circle, another student, made comment to his peer across the Circle ” . . . me, too” and showed the flannel lining of his jeans.
Someone else talked about loving mittens that divide your fingers on the inside. I connected with that. It was really fun a round of answers to listen to.
A recent evaluation form had the feedback that what the person liked least was “too much fluff at the begining, unnecessary”. I thought about that Circle, and I know I spent some time getting all 22 people feeling comfortable. I do feel the stages are structured to get us prepared for the tougher questions.
I wonder what ‘fluff’ this person felt. Maybe it was the values, and maybe it was a connecting question.
I error on the side of building up of connecting people a little before addressing the harm. To me the more you know about someone the more you have something to connect to them about.
I was chatting with some volunteers before a session. I learned a lot about ice fishing! I didn’t know about the pop-ups or walking on the ice vs running. It was pretty clear a few other people had way, way more knowledge than I did.
My next getting acquainted question is going to be “what is something you know A LOT about”.