About our Sharing Circles
We scheduled Sharing Circles for 1 hour each from late-February through mid-March (2020) on both campuses.
Fun fact: we wrapped our final Sharing Circle on March 11, 2020. Due to the pandemic, the college closed campuses on Friday, March 13 and moved to remote delivery a week later.
Shane Baker led and facilitated these small-group Sharing Circles; other members of the UDL Project team sat in the Circles to listen to students’ stories and take notes for the purposes of creating the learning tool outcomes.
Introduction to Sharing Circles
by Shane Baker
Sharing Circles have been used by Indigenous people since time immemorial. They were used to solve complex challenges, using a number of perspectives.
The circle represents wholeness, but also represents the cycles of life. The circle has no beginning, and no end. Sharing Circles are not based upon hierarchy, but rather symbolize the important role held by everyone who is a part of the circle. Each person in the Sharing Circle has a unique perspective and important knowledge to share.
In a Sharing Circle, each member will have an opportunity to share from the heart. When others are sharing, it is critical that all other members listen intently to what the person is saying. Some elders say it is important to listen with our two ears, but also with our hearts.
To begin the circle, a leader will introduce themselves and the point of bringing the group together. Following this, each member will have an opportunity to introduce themselves. I have been taught that we begin with the person in the east, because that is where the sun rises and a new day begins. After each member of the circle introduces themselves, the person who started the circle, will share their knowledge on the topic/issue being discussed. After everyone has had an opportunity to share, the circle leader will acknowledge everyone’s contributions and give one last opportunity to share anything that may have been missed.
Finally, everyone will have an opportunity to share in a closing comment.