The Talking Circle

As soon as I started reading Touching Spirit Bear class meeting became “talking circle.”  It just felt right to them.  We ended state testing yesterday after a long intense week.  You could  feel the atmosphere in the room, a mixture of relief and riot.  I had terrible static cling and nothing will ever convince me that it wasn’t a direct result of the collective pent up frustration of 29 children, 1 teacher, and 1 useless proctor.

Talking Circle.

I hand this week’s item, a squishy penguin I picked up at the ICE conference to my first friend.  His hands shake as he takes it.  He has big news.  Some frown, other widen their eyes as he begins.  It’s clear something is coming.  Something big.

Then the damn breaks.  His father has been given a teaching job in Africa.  He is moving at the end of the year.  Shockwaves.  I swear I see a few sparks out of the corner of my eye.

We ask him questions and give him time to talk.  He is excited and nervous.  We are excited and nervous for him.  Each child connects with his experience, shares their emotions, offers thanks to classmates, a few apologies are made.  This is the second student who has told of an impending move at the end of the year.  There are no squabbles this week.

It starts softly.  Like a storm far out on the horizon.  A brief flash.  Sniffle.  Did I just feel a rain drop? Sniffle.  Sniffle.  Tears.  Then the sky opens up and explodes.  Weeping. Bawling.

Then they are all crying and hugging.  It’s been a hard week and they have a lot to let out.

The storm eventually moves on, leaves the air fresh and moist.  The room cleansed.  My skirt suddenly flows freely, the electricity gone.  Then like a blast of sunshine the announcement comes.  All testing is finished for the day.  So we all go outside to play.  Splashing our feet in puddles.


Categories: Slice of Life Challenge | Tags: | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “The Talking Circle

  1. I love the arc of this story, Katie – the tension, the sorrow, the celebration…and those last, joyous lines. We see so much in our classrooms, don’t we…especially when we allow ourselves to. There is such a sense of community in your classroom – it comes through in all your slices, my friend.

  2. When they share with us, somehow is gives them the power to go on….thank you for a beautifully written description of such a share.

  3. I totally agree with Tara’s comment. What a wonderful piece of writing, describing this powerful talking circle moment. Wonderful, Katie and thanks so much for this WordPress Theme, I had to steal it.

  4. Such a great moment, perfectly captured! The fact that your students feel comfortable enough to share intimate details and become so vulnerable in front of one another is a testament to you. You have built such a strong, loving, and trusting community in your classroom. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I have had your comment to my post on my mind all week–the one where you referenced “ISAT Hell” and told me you were standing right beside me. It is fortifying to know we are not alone. It is clear you give that gift to your students on a regular basis–the knowledge that they are not alone, that they stand amongst a supportive group. My heart soars for this group of students who have a safe place to let it all out.

  6. Jama

    I love your image of the storm that cleared the electrified atmosphere of your classroom. Powerful imagery!

  7. Tara said it very well!
    Isn’t this what teaching is all about? Children learning from one another and sharing in peace.

  8. Katie,

    Such an emotion filled story. The talking circle is like the kitchen. it’s the heart of the home. I love the way this story unraveled as everyone there unraveled. ~Theresa

  9. Bravo to you for giving your kids the space to share these powerful feelings. They are so blessed to have a teacher who honors their feelings enough to allow time and space for discussion. SO important!

  10. Paul

    A beautiful example finding larger meaning in a small, every day moment. The storm metaphor (the best metaphors being the ones that are actually real) lifts this to a higher place. A great piece of craft! 🙂

  11. This is so wonderfully told. What a moment for your class!

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