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Peace Circles

Providing students with a safe place to work on social-emotional learning


Students in the 4-5 learning pod participate in weekly Peace Circles. The intent of Peace Circles is to allow teachers to connect with students outside of core academics, give students a voice and provide students with a safe place to work on social-emotional learning (SEL). While there is no set curriculum, Peace Circles involve questions or topics that prompt discussion among the whole class (~ 30 students), enabling them to elaborate with as much depth as they want. Peace Circles are facilitated by teachers or students and usually last about 45 minutes, depending on the nature of the topics discussed.

Topics in Peace Circles can be general, or focus on a specific social-emotional skill. Some of the SEL work can be done at any point throughout the year, while other elements may be in response to a specific need (e.g. discussing grief after a student lost a loved one). An example of an SEL topic is “empathy,” and students reflect on and discuss various aspects of empathy. Sample questions might include:

    • How did I use empathy this week?

    • How do I plan to use empathy next week?

    • What is a situation where I had to use empathy?

An example of a general topic for Peace Circles is the prompt “Preference: Old school or new school hip hop?” This provides students a chance to unplug from academics and connect with each other on a more holistic level, learning more about their fellow students. These conversations also enable greater personalization as they allow teachers to learn more about their students outside of the academic realm.

(This Approach is Illustrative of LEAP's Learner Focused Strategies)