Circle Work

Circle work is an old cultural process from the Maori and North American traditions of building community and solving problems.

In more recent times educators have begun using Circle Work to build good relationships, to teach Social and Emotional Learning, to solve conflict and to teach curriculum.

The workshops I offer build on each other so that educators, community workers and families can learn to structure circle work for success and to use circles for a variety of functions and in a variety of settings.

In circles students learn interpersonal skills in action.  Taking turns, listening to each other and collaborative problem solving are skills for life and are all learnt while participating in circle work.

Introduction to Circle Work

This is a highly engaging and participatory workshop to learn to use circle work for a variety of settings and purposes in your classroom.  Learn to set up for success.


Part 1.

Teaching students to work in a circle

Setting up for Success

  • Moving into a circle
  • Establishing protocols for circle set-up
  • Plan for managing disruption - leaving and re-entering the circle
  • Activities that teach fundamental skills for working in a circle e.g. listening, talking object (clear expectations)
  • Exploring planning pro-forma that describes structure – walk participants through circle planning
  • Creating smooth transitions - finishing the circle & moving to next lesson
Part 2.

Activities designed to promote engagement and fun.
Activities to Engage
[Meet up. Set the scene for that particular circle. End circle. Closure]

Quick Activities
Light, fast and fun activities that can be used at the beginning of the day or at any other time when students’ energy or focus is flagging.

Longer Activities
May involve equipment – 10-minute activities.  To be used when an energiser is required.

Team Activities
Focus on working together and building cooperative skills and positive language regarding winning and losing.

Pairing/Grouping Activities
Students learn to work together and establish guidelines around forming groups and partnerships through games.
Part 3.

Focus Circles
(Demonstrated through participation)
  • Circles for Social & Emotional Learning.
  • Circles to Build Relationships (teacher/student, student/student)
  • Circles to Energise (circuit breakers etc. as above)
Part 4.

Planning for your first circle
Using pro-forma (explored in Part 1) & Activity Resource booklet  participants plan for their first two circles.


Restorative Circles

This workshop builds on the Working in circles session and explores using restorative dialogue and processes to problem solve, repair harm and relationships in a school or classroom.

Part 1.

Exploring – facilitating deep discussion

Exploring Relationship/Human Issues

  • Circles to explore relationship issues such as accidental or intentional harm, bullying, forgiveness, apologies.
  • Plan for or respond to issues as they arise in your school or classroom.
Part 2.

Teach Restorative Dialogue

Circles to teach Restorative Dialogue

  • Explicit teaching of restorative dialogue – students learn the language and purpose in order to deepen their engagement.
  • Activities to explore and consolidate learning.
  • Activities to build communication and skill to use restorative dialogue with each other
Part 3.

Repairing Harm

Circles to repair harm.

  • Facilitate informal and formal circles to repair harm using restorative dialogue
  • Address cohort issues such as teasing, disrespectful behaviour, inappropriate language etc in a collaborative manner.
Part 4.

Planning for your first circle
Using pro-forma  & Activity Resource booklet  participants plan for two circles.