Why you should start staff meetings off with Community Circle.

Why you should start staff meetings off with Community Circle.

Ever heard of Community Circle?

The name pretty much sums it up. It’s a way of establishing connection and community. A space for conversation, listening and learning. A prompt is given and everyone has the opportunity to share their thoughts.

In my experience of it, there’s been three key elements to successfully embedding it into staff culture.

Literally a Circle

Firstly, it helps if staff actually sit in a circle. It may seem like a minor detail, but when you’re in a circle, there are no points of prominence. There’s no hierarchy. Nobody standing or sitting in isolation. A circle gives everyone equal stature. Everyone can be seen and there’s no space for others to be left out. 

Pass the Parcel

Next, pass something around so that the person answering the question is holding the item. This creates a physical representation of the connectedness. Some schools have a special card of their school values that gets passed around, while others may have something less formal, like a ball or token.  

We can pass?

Finally, and most importantly, there’s the option to ‘pass’. Not everyone may feel like contributing or engaging with every topic given. Although this is a best case scenario, giving the option of passing empowers staff. It gives choice. And we know that when wellbeing interventions are made compulsory, they’re much less effective - or authentic!

What do we chat about?

So what do you discuss? It’s up to you! I’ve seen staff bring their own ‘this or that’ topic to the table, like ‘smarties or m&ms’, ‘yard duty or after school duty’ or ‘photocopier down or internet down’. I’ve also experienced colleagues creating questions such as ‘Where would you like to travel next?’ or 'Is a hotdog a sandwich?'.

Need some ideas? I’ve made these Daily Gratitude Reflection Cards which are a great starting point for implementing this into your staff meetings. Print onto card and cut out, ready to go! These have a gratitude focus, but other question starters I’ve used in the past can be found at TeamBuilding.com and ConversationStartersWorld.com.


Ah but it takes sooo long!

Yes, it does take a time investment, which can be especially challenging when time is already so sparse within our schools. To this argument, I like to encourage people to consider what they, and their school, values. If creating a culture of respect, trust and connected staff is a priority within an organisation, then sometimes there are allowances (and sacrifices) that need to be made. Taking 5 minutes from the start of each meeting shows that staff are valued, seen and heard, which is particularly powerful when it comes from Leadership in a top-down approach. It’s no use committing to improving staff wellbeing on paper. We need to walk the walk! 

Often, it’s not the answer that brings about the most learning - it’s in the explanation. The explanation of the answer allows us to connect on a deeper level and learn more about our colleagues. It helps build stronger relationships, layering upon trust that’s built up over time. 

FYI- This also rings true for the kids, so could definitely be something you put into practice within your learning space. But hey, we’re here for the teachers ;)

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