Class Meetings & Circles

What are Class Meetings And Circles?

You may hear your child talk about having a class meeting or circle this year.  Recent research supports classroom circles or class meetings as an important part of any successful classroom.  A meeting to get everyone on the same page, discuss a new rule, identify an on going issue during recess, or discuss ways to enhance learning, a class meeting or circle is utilized for student support.   Similar to meetings that adults may have, class meetings and circles are designed with the intention to find a solution to a problem, discuss expectations, and learn about each other separately from academics, while strengthening communication skills between classmates.  Typically, meetings are held once a week, within their classroom, beginning with an exercise for focusing or breathing, and from there students are encouraged to speak honestly, and listen empathetically, about a specified topic.   Class meetings or class circles are never to single a student out, hand out punishments or consequences, nor to force a student to speak about a situation or topic.   

 

If you would like more information, please contact Katie Aldama at (949) 936- 6421 or katiealdama@iusd.org.

What to expect

This year, all fifth and sixth grade classrooms are participating in a class meeting or class circle each week and are facilitated by the Elementary Resource Counseling Specialist, Katie Aldama, and the classroom teacher.   As mentioned above, these meetings are designed with the intention to build communication skills between classmates and peers, support student's accountability to the school, classroom, and classmates, provide an opportunity to get acquainted with those that are not typically in their peer group, and provide a forum for genuine expression of their thoughts, values, and perspectives.  Additionally, students who are encouraged to think about and discuss topics that touch on their values, opinions, and experiences are more equipped to empathize and show compassion for others, show positive leadership skills, as well as begin to develop their sense of purpose.  Questions and topics will always be age appropriate and reflect in some way to getting acquainted, exploring values, building community, and will address the Five CASEL Competencies: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills and Responsible Decision Making.  If you would like to learn more about CASEL and how Westpark is supporting our students with the CASEL Competencies, please check Westpark's Counseling webpage.   A list of topic questions for each grade level is identified below. 

 

Should your teacher, in a different grade level, mention using class meetings,  this is a great opportunity to learn what topic was discussed, what your student/ (s) thought about the topic, and what answer they gave.   This is a wonderful way to ask about something other than, "How was school?"

 

5th grade topics

July, August, September

Getting Acquainted; CASEL Competencies: Self- Management, Self- Awareness

 

If you could be any animal, what would you be, and why?

 

If you were a superhero, what kind of powers would you have, and why?

 

A characteristic I bring to this class is... A characteristic I need from this class is...

 

When do you feel respected?   How can you demonstrate respect even when you feel disrespected?

 

What does being respectful mean to you? When is it difficult to show respect? How often do you feel this class community demonstrates respect? 

 

What was one thing that stuck with you from the video?  How well do you feel this class handles strong emotions? What is something you can do differently next time you notice someone experiencing a strong emotion?

 

What are some things you enjoy about our class meetings?  What are somethings you would change moving forward with our class meetings?

 

October, November, December

Exploring Values; CASEL Competencies: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness

 

What was something you did over fall break?  What made it meaningful to you?

 

What does it mean to "just be yourself"? What can make it difficult to "just be yourself"? What needs to change to "just be yourself" in this classroom?

 

What does it mean to be popular?  Is there a difference between being popular and having friends?  What can make it difficult to have both? What needs to change for it to be less difficult at Westpark?

 

In your opinion, do you think all conflicts are bad?  What kinds of conflicts have you noticed in your class community? What ideas do you have so these conflicts do not happen often?

 

What are some emotions that are connected to feeling grateful?  How can these contribute to a cycle?  How can this be helpful while we are at school?

 

What was something that stuck with you from the video?  What does this suggest about the emotions we experience?  What makes this message meaningful to you?

 

What has been a challenge for you with our class meetings?  How have you grown from this challenge?  

 

January, February, March

Storytelling; CASEL Competencies: Self- Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills

 

What was something fun you did over your winter break? What made this meaningful to you? What is something you are looking forward to between now and spring break?

 

[Ask about our crumpled piece of paper activity!] How is crumpled piece of paper like a human?  In what ways does it still hold value?  We have all felt "crumpled" at times, and we have all been a "crumpler" at times.  In what ways can we reduce this at Westpark?

 

What is an assumption people sometimes make about you before they get to know you?  Where do assumptions come from? What are some ways assumptions can affect our decisions?  What can we do as a class to challenge these assumptions?

 

How do you feel when you have to work with someone you do not like?  Describe how you would like to be treated by someone who may not like you.  What is something you can try next time you have to work with someone you do not like?

 

Name one value that is very important to you.  What makes this value important to you?  Name a person who you feel represents this value and how they demonstrate the value you named.

 

What is something you are enjoying about our class meetings?  What is something you would like to change about our class meetings?

 

6th Grade Topics

July, August, September

Getting Acquainted:  

 

If you could be any animal, what would you be, and why?

 

If you had an unexpected free day, what would you do?

 

What does it feel like to be respected?  What does it feel like to be disrespected?  Describe how you would like others to treat you so you feel respected.  Tell about a time you showed respect to someone you didn't like.  

 

How would your best friend describe you?  (Continuation from Respect) When is it difficult to show respect?  What is something you want to try to do differently when you feel disrespected?

 

If you were a superhero, what super powers would you have and why?  What are some reasons for conflicts here at school?  Why do people choose to start conflicts rather than resolve issues calmly or logically?

 

What are you most excited for break and why?  (Continuation from Conflicts)  Can conflicts be positive?  What are some positive things that can come out of conflict?  If you are in a conflict, how can you make sure the results are positive for everyone?

 

October, November, December

Exploring Values:

 

What is one peak (something that was exciting, joyful, positive) and one valley (something that was disappointing, sad, discouraging) that happened over your fall break?

 

What does it mean to "just be yourself"?  Is it easy to be yourself? How can it be difficult? How can remembering your (or your family's) values help you be yourself?

 

What does it mean to be popular?  Is there a difference  between being popular and having friends? Why do you think that?  What is more important, having friends or being popular?  What can make it difficult to have both?

 

What are different kinds of friends?  Is it possible to have more than one best friend at the same time?  What would make it difficult?  When friendships change, do they have to end?

 

Name an emotion a 6th grader might experience.  Imagine you feel like you are being blamed for something you didn't do.  What are some emotions you would be feeling in this situation?  What is one way you could respond to this situation that would cause problems?  What is one way you could respond that would make things better for you?

 

Name one value that is very important to you.  Why is the value important to you?  How does it help you be a better person?  What is a value someone else chose that you also think is important?

 

What do you enjoy about using social media?  How can you use social media to show your values?  What makes a social media experience negative?  Do you think it is easier for people to be mean to each other online than it is in person?

 

 January, February, March

Storytelling: Who we are , What has shaped us

 

What is something that you would like to start doing, stop doing, do more often, or less often during 2019?

 

Responding to Rejection:  What can it feel like to be rejected? What are some ways you've seen people respond to rejection? How can being rejected be a positive thing sometimes?

 

Past Conflicts: What's one difficult scenario you dealt with this year?  How would you handle it differently if you could?

 

Strong Emotions, Strong Thoughts:  What are some strong emotions you regularly feel at school? What causes them?

 

Tell about a time you made "Lemonade out of Lemons"

 

Facing Challenges Together: Why do you think people are afraid of trying things that are challenging?  Agree or Disagree:  "People should handle challenges alone."

 

What does "I'm stressed" mean to you?  Talk about a time when you felt very stressed out.  Now that you've gone through it, was it worth being stressed out?  What strategies do you use to help calm down when you are stressed out?

 

April, May, June

Preparing for Middle School!

 

The following  topics were chosen through a  grade level survey asking about areas students wanted clarification on before moving into middle school.   Please find the linked Google Presentations if you would like to continue the discussion at home.

 

Middle School Prep Week 1: Managing Stress

 

Middle School Prep Week 2: Making Friends

 

Middle School Prep Week 3: Advocating for Academics

 

Middle School Prep Week 4: Study Skills

 

Should you have any further questions or concerns, please contact Katie Aldama at (949) 936- 6421.