I stick to the 4 phases of Circles. Our Circlespace Room at the Restorative Justice Center even has them on the wall. I got to chat a bit with someone else who keeps Circle and we found a few places to keep to these phases.
A few tips to dig deeper into the Circle process. Try not to do the same types of questions for every phase. You can even get creative in modifying what you might say to into the Circle, by the participants level of engagement.
In a Circle meeting multiple times, we used our values plates from the last Circle. I instructed people to either the one that appeared on the top or to reach in the stack and late fate decide. They could also just look and pick one. We were going to share how that value (the one on the plate) has been experienced in our life.
We set the tone for building relationships by speaking how we were impacted by the last Circle we had, what did we carry with over the week. This built our relationships by sharing that we are making a difference to each other. This gave our Circle the opportunity to value each and every person.
I used a question from one of our written surveys, “how would you describe this experience to a friend”. This built up our understanding of each others perspectives of the process. It again let us know how much we were doing for each other. One simple response was “freedom and healing”.
We had our storytelling time, which is the addressing issues stage. Following stories we always do a reflection on the story. You have to role model this one, remind people with your direct and indirect words, to share from their own perspectives. I might mention that using “I” and “me” are more reflective. People often have the first response to thank the person who shared and then want to offer their own advice, feedback and those things get closer to judgement that a Circle is designed to be. If you are saying “you” in Circle you might need to shift a little.
I directed people to another Circle on the way, the one that listed our intended outcomes: Restore Connections – Improve Self-worth – Promote Empathy. I asked people to share how they have been impacted relative to those 3 or any others. This was really interesting to hear how many people felt an increase of self-worth. I was glad to see such expressed shifts as a result of being in Circle.
Our closing to dig a bit deeper was to identify the person 3 people to your left. The round was going to be saying the person’s name, and then “my wish for you is ____”. The blank could only be 1 word. I got to hear “Kris, my wish for you is Love.” We went around the Circle, and the wishes went around, and people got a moment to soak in the wish they recieved before sharing a wish (with the 2 people in between). It was wonderful that we wanted peace, confidence, optimism, gratitude and things that really allowed the person sharing and listening to interpret for themselves.
Great Circles inspire me. People leading and learning and sharing in this process really makes you feel connected to humanity. If you haven’t had a chance, give it a try.