Three Scenes from Friday

1. Three fourth grade students meet in a fishbowl circle while the rest of their class observes. They each work through an issue of their own choosing. When we close the circle we ask, “What was it like for you to be in this circle?” One girl answers: “It’s like there are a lot of feelings inside but they are in jail. Then we talk about them and the jail doors open and they turn into butterflies and I just feel a lot better.”

2. We ask the sixth graders to tune in to how they are feeling, then we go around the room and each one says a single word that fits for them: “Peaceful.” “Angry.” “Normal.” “Happy.” and so on. Then we say “Imagine that all these feelings are ingredients in a soup. We are all living together in this soup right now. What is the soup called?” Immediately a dozen hands shoot into the air. “Creme of Emotion Soup.” “Feelings Alphabet Soup.” And many more ideas. Isn’t it rich? Isn’t it tasty?

3. I ask a student who had just completed a fishbowl circle if he wants my chair for the next fishbowl. Immediately he says “yes.” Now he is in the center with three other students and helps two of them work through their issues. I can see that other students want in, so I ask him to trade with a girl who was in the earlier fishbowl with him. She works with the third student in the circle, finishing the work the other student had started. Then I ask her to trade with yet another boy from the earlier circle. He asks the students the closing question, “What was it like for you to be in this circle?” He also adds a second question: “Do you think it would have been diferent if our adult facilitator was asking the questions in your circle, instead other students?” All the adults lean in to hear the answers to this unexpected question. The students all reply, each in their own words: maybe. But working with each other instead is just fine.

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