Fireside Chats Teacher's Guide: Volume 1

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Lesson Three: Carly Chartier 57 ACTIVATE: SHARING CIRCLE Invite a local Elder or Knowledge Keeper into your class to share teachings around Sharing Cir- cles/Talking Circles, or refer to the Sharing Circle Teacher Resource which shares Anishinaabe and Red River Métis teachings. In this activating strategy, as a class, you will be participating in a Sharing Circle together. Using Indigenous pedagogies and perspectives creates a culturally responsive classroom; which leads to student empowerment, community spirit, boosts in student self-esteem, increases academic improvement and creates a positive learning environment. Instruct the class to either move their chairs to form a circle or clear a space for everyone to sit on the floor in a circle. The circle symbolizes completeness, interconnectedness and shows that everyone participating is an equal. Participants in a Sharing Circle are all sitting together; either all on the floor or all on chairs (unless there are special accommodations of why someone can't sit in that fashion, such as a student who has a broken leg, and may not be able to get up from the ground). If a talking stick, grandfather rock or a feather is unavailable, an everyday object such as a pencil can be used as a talking object. The object is usually passed in a clockwise direction unless taught otherwise by a local Elder or Knowledge Keeper. Only one person speaks at a time. Only the person holding the talking object may speak. Dia- logues are not part of the circle as they can become confrontational. What is said stays within the Circle. This shows respect and builds trust for each other. There will be two rounds of the Sharing Circle. For the first round each student will introduce themself. They may just say their first name. If a student has a Spirit Name, they can share it at this point in time too. The teacher will introduce themselves first. For the second round, ask students the question "Who, or what, is an important support in your life?". The teacher will answer the question first in order to model what is expected from the students. Students will take turns passing around the talking object. Whomever has the talking object is The Speaker. The Speaker may speak for as long as they need to, with respect for the time of others. Silence is an acceptable response to the question. If a student does not feel comfortable sharing, "I pass" is an acceptable answer. Speaking in a Sharing Circle is voluntary. Everyone without the talking object are The Listeners. The Listeners will listen with respect and give support to the speaker. What is said in the circle stays in the circle - never repeat anything that is said within the circle, unless you have the permission of the speaker. As the talking object goes around, the teacher will listen to the students' answers about what, or who, they believe is a major support in their life. There may be many various answers. If you want to further the question, you could ask the students "Why are they a major support to you?" Examples of possible answers: •Their parents •Their teacher •Their best friend •The school •The community centre After the talking object goes around for the second time, the teacher will close the Sharing Circle with a quick grounding exercise. Teachers may use grounding exercises they already use in their classroom or do some deep breathing. The point of grounding the students is to get their minds ready to continue with the lesson.

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