We have begun to have campfires in our classroom. Campfires are sharing circles.
Sharing circles are a part of the oral tradition of the Anishinaabe. Usually a talking stick is used in the circle when meetings take place or decisions need to be made. A talking stick gives the speaker courage to speak the truth and the power to speak from the heart. When a person is holding the talking stick, he/she speaks from the heart without interruption. Other people in the circle listen respectfully to the speaker. Everyone in the circle gets a chance to hold the talking stick and share his/her thoughts and feelings. If somone chooses not to speak, he or she passes the stick to the next person until the stick has been passed to everyone participating.
In our classroom, we have adapted the sharing circle into a campfire with brags and drags. When I say, "Campfire", the students arrange themselves into a circle. Sitting in a circle helps to build a sense of community. We use a rock instead of a a talking stick to pass around the circle. Students are only allowed to talk when he/she is holding the rock, otherwise they are listening. Everyone is encouraged to share, but has the right to "pass". Students share 2 pieces of information (2 brags, 2 drags, or 1 brag and 1 drag). Brags are good things things that are happening to us and drags are not very happy things. The rock is passed in a clockwise direction or as the sun rises and sets as is the custom in the Anishinaabe tradition.
Campfires or Sharing Circles are helpful in building positive relationships with students. It allows me find out how each student is doing. I might learn about an exciting hockey game played the night before or an upcoming trip. I may also learn about things that are bothering students, such as a sick pet or a disagreement with a sibling. Students also have the opportunity to learn more about me when I share. Most of my brags and drags involve my two daughters. The students seem to be more kind when the discover I have had a bad morning because my family slept in and my kids missed the bus.