Students See Value in Talking Circles

Year 12 students at the WA College of Agriculture-Denmark have experienced the fun and benefits of their first Talking Circle.

The purpose of the talking circle, which is used as part of residential boarding instruction, is to create a safe environment in which students can share their point of view with others. In a Talking Circle, each one is considered  equal and each one belongs.

The talking piece is a meaningful and symbolic object that the facilitator, also called the “circle keeper,” brings to the circle. The circle keeper often incorporates an explanation of the meaning of the talking piece into the circle activities. Our symbolic item is the large kitchen wooden paddle (as pictured with our Year 12’s). This paddle has helped prepare many a meal that helps sustain those that live, attend and visit the College.

The benefits of circles such as this, is that is provides a medium for giving and receiving meaningful interchange and creates a student generated agenda. The circle also fosters good communication skills and provides an opportunity to learn, understand and respect differences.  It also provides problem solving through brain-storming ideas, focusing on non-punitive solutions and offers the opportunity for the students  to ‘buy in’ to the direction/culture of the College;  and be provided with feedback regarding decisions that they otherwise might not understand the background to.

“Helping to build trust and respect among students who essentially have to live with one another throughout the school year in a residential environment can be challenging.” said, Kelli Gillies, Residential Manager. “Using the Talking Circle helps to build positive relationships right from the start.”

Year 12 student Deahna Keam said of the program. “This is such a great idea and so beneficial to students. It really helps to maintain relationships and prevent unhealthy behaviours and dynamics between peers.”

All students at the College will have two circles per term, with Year 10 and Year 11 students next in line


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