Just a few days ago I ran probably one of the most powerful circles in my lifetime.
It was a circle for parents of the children in Phoenix special school for children with severe and profound learning difficulties. The structure of circle time keeps it safe. You start with a game to warm people up and release tension, you warm up with a round and a speaking egg, you open up issues that matter to you, you cheer up and you do a calming mindful exercise at the end. The ground rules keep it safe too – we don’t judge each other, we are only here to support each other and we listen with empathy.
The group of parent’s responded with immediate warmth to circle time and I was so moved by them asking for help. Some of their situations were incredibly difficult. Some children only sleep for 2 hours at a time. Other young people will need changing regularly. Some parents have no respite care. Some are single parents and they have no network of support around them. Some are very anxious about what the future holds for their child. The very best people to help these parents … are other parents. So the simple opening up strategy “I need help because I don’t know how to cope with my own sleeplessness now, my child’s temper tantrums, my feeling of isolation”… followed by anybody in a circle could put their thumb up and say “would it help if?” was so powerful because the expertise, wisdom and deep experience within the group is exactly what some parents needed.
When it came to the ‘cheer’-up step and I asked how people manage to stay positive, their strategies were fabulous. One person reads her own little book of happiness, some revel in the quiet bath on their own, some have a very powerful philosophy of life. I was very humbled by their courage, wisdom and inner resourcefulness. When I did a round of ‘what brings me joy’ and one woman said “I am always joyful when my daughter is not in pain”. I just felt how extraordinarily lucky many of us are in our lives and how we take a pain free life for ourselves and others for granted.
The one amazing thing that united everybody was their love of the school and how it lifts them every day. The school is led by an extraordinary headteacher Phil Pike who has a hugely generous heart, an incredibly resourceful mind and an enlightened spirit. He makes everyone feel special and that they are a wonderful parent – because they are. They truly are. ……
Website Editor’s Notes
1. Jenny Mosley provides training, consultancy and delivers keynote speeches, seminars and workshops at conferences and training events including headteachers’ conferences for Early Years settings, primary and special schools. For further information about Jenny’s work and availability please phone 01225 767157, email firstname.lastname@example.org or see our training section on the website.
2. For all enquiries about Conferences, Closure (INSET) Days and Working in School Days for positive behaviour, social and emotional skills develoment, staff well-being, circle time and lunchtimes and playtimes in mainstream and special schools – click here. Jenny’s training, consultancy and conferences are for teachers, teaching assistants, headteachers, midday supervisors and everyone who works with children in primary schools and early years settings.
3. Jenny Mosley’s Golden Model and training helps to promote positive behaviour, pupil voice, calmer lunchtimes and playtimes, SMSC, PSHE and British Values.
4. See details of one of Jenny Mosley’s latest books ‘How to Create Calm Dining Halls‘.
5. To see all resources for schools, dining halls and playgrounds – click here.