“Everything we do is so important, but there are some moments when you know ‘this is the real work’; I experience that a lot in Circle.” - RMP Circle Facilitator, Fourth Grade Teacher
Imagine if you had time during your workday to check in with yourself. How might your day be different if you were able to tell the people you spend the most time with how you were actually feeling? What if when you made a mistake, you had space to repair things, and were then able to move on effectively? If you could ask for help on hard days and knew someone would check back in with you later, would you feel more successful in your day-to-day work?
We decided to put these questions to the test! With the support of the Valor Collegiate team, each Rocky Mountain Prep school adopted the Compass Circle model, a values-based, community development approach for self-understanding and organizational development and is a mechanism to catalyze a commitment to growth this school year. Created by Daren Dickson at Valor Collegiate Academies, the Compass Circles model provides a framework for schools to host regular, structured conversations about the many elements of a student’s life outside of the classroom.
With guidance, the RMP team is implementing the “RMP Compass”, or, set of values, to support growth and development towards well-being in all aspects of what it means to be human. “Working” our RMP compass as a community allows us to create a safe and loving space for both students and adults to bring their whole selves every day. In fact, in a recent survey, 96% of RMP staff agreed or strongly agreed that Student Circle, if done well, is an important experience for our students.
After completing an experiential task entitled Limelight, in which one student receives an appreciation from everyone in the class, a Fourth Grade Teacher opens the discussion for her students: “How do you feel after completing Limelight?”
“I have never liked coming to school. I have never really felt cared about. Today is different. I didn’t know that people even noticed me when I am in the room. I feel emotional. I feel good,” the fourth-grader shared with his peers.
Asked the same question, a fifth-grade student replied: “Awesome. Hype. I woke up excited. I even did my hair cool,” he said making eye contact with each person in Circle. “You all brought it. You didn’t disappoint. You made my day. I feel great and my mom will be proud.”
Another RMP student shared: “When I first came to this school no one really knew me. After we started Circles, everyone knew my name and what I was going through.”
Each week, Circle reminds us we are all human. We are multi-faceted and every part of our individual story matters. We believe students and adults benefit from being recognized as individuals and deserve to be seen as the complex people we are. We all make mistakes and need a safe place to take responsibility. These moments specifically can be opportunities for accelerated growth for the entire community. To be human means to experience success and struggle. Circle is one of the places where, as a community, we are able to practice taking care of each other during both high and low points in life.
“Working the Compass” means we commit to leading with love. We commit to keeping ourselves and each other safe. We commit to seeking a diversity of perspectives. We commit to leaving no team member behind. We commit to speaking to the person, not about the person. We commit to walking our talk. We commit to doing all of this together.