Trust among participants is a basic requirement for authentic communication in circle. How can a circle keeper support the group in going deeper? Read more as Amos Clifford describes a "Deepening Circle" that can be adapted to almost any group process, with children or adults, especially in the delicate stages of building trust.
In a deepening circle a series of prompts are given, with each prompt building on its predecessor. The prompts are structured to encourage progressively deeper reflection. They invite, but do not require, self-disclosure of inner thoughts. Circle participants can choose how much to reveal or withhold, depending upon how much trust they feel toward others in the circle.
"Headlines" Circle Activity for Deepening
The “Headlines” circle activity creates an opportunity for participants to choose an appropriate level of intimacy in their sharing, perhaps exploring the edges of the trustworthiness of the circle.
This circle can also be used to support language arts projects, and is perhaps particularly well-suited to journalism classes. The prompts can be called upon again and again as a tool for deepening reflection or analysis of almost academic topic or social experience.
It may be helpful to scaffold this circle by first displaying some headlines from newspapers. Wacky headlines from sources such as National Enquirer will set a tone of fun and creativity. Sober headlines from the New York Times or similar sources will tend to nudge the group in a different direction. Use your judgement to choose examples that best serve the group.
For many groups there is no need to do a separate check-in or connection prompt, because the first prompt in the sequence serves that purpose.
Modified version for reflecting on academic content:
Modified version to use in training and retreats or other situations where people have been involved in sustained learning processes:
This sequence of prompts can be modified in many ways, and reused again and again to support reflection and learning.
Give it a try and let us know how it goes.
Amos Clifford, Guide and Restorative Council Mentor; trainer in restorative justice, restorative dialogue with nature, and circle-keeping and the way of council; mentor.