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Circle Time

By Janna Carlson | Brevard, NC

Here at Mountain Sun Community School, we like to make circles. This shape is inclusive and lets you see those around you. We are a community made up of all kinds of people with different experiences and ideas. These circles are used to give everyone the chance to hear others and to be heard by others. Moving our bodies is important, and so is stillness. In our circles, we learn to see the value of finding our peace. Looking around we see our elders leading with their actions, demonstrating what respectful behavior looks like to others around them. This example of kindness is a useful tool we use throughout the day and with each classroom.

Our Acorn classroom starts its day with circle time. During this time our class comes together to ready their minds and bodies for the day. We find our inner peace with a moment of silence and talk about our feelings. We give names to our feelings. This time lets others know how we are doing each day. We share excitement for the day ahead, nervousness because of the unknown, or tiredness from a restless night, or pride of their camp out projects. When we give these feelings names and share them with our fellow Acorns, we connect with one another on a deeper level. We talk about the day to come and we remind ourselves the classroom expectations.

Knowing our expectations for our classroom keeps the flow of our day and helps us find important works to fill our independent work time. During this quiet and busy time we create smaller circles. In these gatherings our Acorns practice controlling their bodies and minds, staying still while focusing on new information. These lesson circles are welcomed by the Acorns because they know it is an opportunity for them get new information. This new knowledge helps our classroom grow. New works are made available with each new lesson circle. These small lessons are made to meet different groups where they are throughout the year. Time with individuals and smaller circles are also very important at Mountain Sun Community School. We also welcome all our school mates to our classroom for even more learning opportunities.

Acorns love seeing friends join them in and out of the classroom. On Fridays, Owls, Otters, Acorns, Monarchs, and Coyotes all come together for a special circle time. We call this weekly tradition Community Centering. This beautiful circle brings all of our students together. We make announcements about what is going on in each classroom and what they are looking forward to in the coming week. It is a sweet chance to connect with students, teachers and our place. After all announcements have been made it is time to wrap things up and transition to the classroom. We recite the school pledge all together in two circles in the open center area of Stables. Owls and Otters are in the lower open space and Acorns, Monarchs, and Coyotes stand on the decking around the others. After the pledge it is time for our songs which lets each class know when it is their turn to leave community centering and return to their classroom.

Taking time to slow down and making time to reflect are themes that run through Mountain Sun Community School. Using tools to bring out the best in all those who come into our space is valued and nurtured. Whether you start as an Owl or transition to our school in later years we foster the love of our community with a shape that can fit us all. We see others and they see us, helping us do our best to give one another what we need. Circle time is a useful tool we use throughout the day and with each classroom.

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