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Community circles: How do community circles influence classroom climate?

1 June 1997


The purpose of this qualitative study was to answer the primary research question; How do Community circles influence classroom climate? Community circles are a component of the Tribes program. They are used to build community and inclusion in the classroom. Community circles are similar to Glasser's Classroom Meetings and The Magic Circle program. Research has indicated that these types of discussion formats are important in creating an atmosphere of trust and a sense of belonging or community. Several questions were addressed in relation to classroom climate: 1) How does affective education contribute to cognitive growth? How can community circles contribute to a positive self-concept? How can community circles be integrated throughout the curriculum?

This study took place in a suburban K-S elementary school located in the Pacific' Northwest. The participants were fourth and fifth grade students from a blended classroom. Information was gathered in the classroom through a variety of methodological approaches including observations and recorded community circles. In order to protect the participants' rights to privacy and anonymity I have provided pseudonyms for all participants in the study.

After collecting my observations during community circles and the larger classroom setting, my research revealed that community circles do contribute to a positive classroom climate in several ways: they provide an opportunity for children's self-expression in a nonjudgemental format, give students a common language for discussing and dealing with problems in the classroom, and may influence a student's self-concept. In order for community circles to be most effective they should be consistent and considered as important as other curriculum areas.


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