One of my favorite parts of the day is the last few minutes.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. No, it’s not because they’re about to leave, it’s because that’s when we have our Closing Circle. We end our day together reflecting on what we did as learners.
I know I got the idea for the Closing Circle from someone–probably several someones–and I’m not sure who it was, but I will officially say thanks to Mike Holdinghaus, Heidi Ford and Grant Bearden for this idea. I am sure I’ve probably tweaked and changed it a little, like teachers often do, but the general idea is the same–appreciate those people we’ve spent the day with and compliment them for the hard work we’ve done together.
The name implies alot: we sit in a circle at the close of the day. I choose someone to start (this is usually random) and that person starts off by complimenting someone who helped them as a learner at some point during the day. We go around the circle and each person shares, using the starter “I compliment ________ for…” They are allowed a “pass” the first time around, if they can’t think of something, and then we fill in with all of those people in the second go-round.
One of the reasons I love this time of day is because it allows us time to reflect on what has actually happened; what we’ve learned, the fun we’ve had, the struggles we may have overcome. Another reason is because usually they notice things that I didn’t, or think about them in a different way than I would have. I love that even this early in the year, they’ve figured out that giving a compliment like “You helped me think about that in a way I’d never thought of before” is more thoughtful than “You played with me at recess today.” Obviously there are times when the compliments are on the surface level like that–but then, sometimes, that’s what really matters to the kid who says it.
There are many days when we don’t get to the closing circle because the last few minutes are nutty and we run out of time. Those days just don’t feel “right” to me. And usually someone notices it, too, and makes sure to say so. Then we always make sure that the next afternoon we make time to meet and close together. Love it that they love this time as much as me. It’s just a part of our classroom culture, and is a part that helps everyone leave on the same high note, ready to come back for more tomorrow. 🙂