Peace Circle

Simple strategies to embed Social/Emotional Learning into every lesson, everyday.

Build bonds between students with lagging social skills

If you’ve spent much time in classrooms, watched students interact, listened to how they talk to, and about, each other, read social media interchanges... you discover a painful truth. Our kids don’t know how to get along.

Life in school is a power struggle, with the greatest power wielded by the most skillfully rude. Playgrounds are ruled by miniature Robber Barons who maintain their grip by stealing classmates’ self esteem.

Wonderfully enough, with Peace Circle, kids can often polish their mannerly talents at a faster clip than they improve their academic skills.


WBT Morning Peace Circle

In only a few minutes every morning, dramatically increase the strength of student-student bonds.

Materials: A large foam dice, a stopwatch, and a Day Friend cup of sticks with each student’s name.

At some point in the morning, often after Fiver Plus, Ms. Maestra’s students pull a stick from the Day Friend cup and take their place in a circle at the front of the room. After selecting a Day Friend stick herself, our dear Guide sits in the circle and sets a stopwatch for two minutes.

Ms. Maestra starts with a cheery greeting and then says, “I feel ” giving a short upbeat description of her feelings (without mentioning the morning’s traffic.)

Next, she rolls the dice. If 1, 2, 3 appear, Ms. Maestra gives her Day Friend a compliment. If 4, 5, appear, no compliment, and the class chants, “We’ve got Grit! We don’t Quit!” A six is re-roll.

She hands the dice to her Day Friend, who follows her pattern, and completes the “I feel ” blank. The dice are rolled again. If 1, 2, or 3 appear, the current player compliments their Day Friend. If anyone draws a blank, they extend their arms and exclaim, “Help me, please!” Kids chime in with sample compliments. (If a student has said something like “I feel sad” or “I feel angry” Ms. Maestra checks with them after Peace Circle.)

If you’ve never employed dice rolling or a timer, you’ve missed powerful motivators... it’s as if kids have never seen dice or a stopwatch. Students are disappointed they didn’t get a chance to roll the dice and compliment a classmate. Your class becomes Happy Land when kids are eager for today’s praise practice.

When time’s up, do anything else but no more Peace Circle dice rolling... to powerfully fuel classroom engagement, always conclude WBT entertainments when kids want to keep playing. Put another way, always stop games before habituation sets in.

Shallow/Deep compliments: Teach kids the difference between shallow and deep compliments. Shallow: “You have nice shoes, Poli.” “I like your backpack, Lita.” “You have pretty hair, Reena.” Deep: “You are really good at math, Dede.” “Your drawing yesterday had careful coloring, Oswaldo.” “Everyone should be as kind as you, LaKedria.” “You speak great sentences, Tasha.” Shallow compliments are superficial, describe appearances. Deep compliments are thoughtful, describe positive characteristics.

When your students are ready for advanced game rules, grab the full download, Rascal X. Have questions? Join the conversation at our Peace Circle Facebook Group.