Strategy

Closing Circle

Circle Time, Closing Activity

Closing Circle is a daily class meeting that promotes reflection and community at the end of the school day; used as a transitional activity to prepare students for dismissal in a calm and positive manner. In Closing Circle, a teacher gathers students together prior to dismissal and facilitates a familiar routine. A typical routine begins with closing questions, is followed by a reflection of highlights from the day and ends with a farewell song that signals dismissal. While the exact routine will vary from teacher to teacher, the Closing Circle should initiate dialogue that promotes reflection of the day’s activities and interactions and promote a sense of community and accomplishment, encouraging enthusiasm for the next school day. Closing Circle is a productive method for teachers to intentionally and effectively wrap up the school day. The sense of community, reflective engagement and uplifting transition to school dismissal, make Closing Circle a particularly meaningful strategy for early learners.

Implementation Tips

Developing a Routine
Develop a routine that works for you. Include reflection, highlights from the day and a farewell song, chant or activity. Introduce the Closing Circle routine at the start of the school year and follow it with consistency so that it becomes a well-loved tradition.
Allocating Time
Set aside ten minutes at the end of the day for closing circle. Closing Circle should be intentional, meaningful and calm, not rushed, overwhelming and interrupted. Establishing a set time for Closing Circle will support a calm and uplifting transition to dismissal.
Preparing for Dismissal
Come to Closing Circle time without belongings. Have students pack bags prior to Closing Circle and leave them either in their cubbies, on their hooks or behind them in the circle. Students are more likely to engage without the distraction of belongings nearby.
Encouraging Reflection
Wrap up the day by reviewing and reflecting upon activities, content, and goals mastered throughout the day. Use this time to reinforce goals, remind students of their accomplishments and engage students in reflective thinking.
Student Participation
Encourage all students to take part in Closing Circle. All students should actively participate in Closing Circle to instill a sense of community. Introduce reflective questions to bolster student engagement.
Probing Questions
Ask reflective questions that encourage students to contribute thoughtful and insightful perspective regarding the day’s activities and learning (e.g., “What was your favorite part about today?”; “What was one thing you learned today?”).
Signaling Dismissal
Choose a routine wrap-up activity to include during Closing Circle that focuses on celebration to end the day on a high note (e.g., chant, cheer, a song such as [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCr2t34vkIE | The Goodbye Song]]). This activity can be used to transition students to dismissal.
Ending Positively
Focus on positives, accomplishments and goals. Focusing and reflecting upon accomplishments, learning, and productive tasks, rather than frustrations and conflict, will promote enthusiasm, instilling a sense of success and positivity before dismissal.

Examples

Building Community
After everyone is packed up, ten minutes before dismissal, the teacher rings the bell to signal the beginning of Closing Circle. Students join in the designated meeting area and sit “crisscross-applesauce,” ready to end the day. The teacher begins with a closing community-builder (e.g., “Let’s start with Shout Outs. Think about a classmate that you would like to give a Shout Out to."). The teacher goes around the circle, offering each student an opportunity to contribute. Then, the teacher initiates reflection of the day’s accomplishments (e.g., "We accomplished so much today. Let’s look at our schedule and celebrate what we learned today.”). Following reflection, the teacher initiates the start of the goodbye song. Students quickly join in and soon all students are loudly, and enthusiastically, singing the uplifting song they have memorized that signals their transition to dismissal, saluting their peers goodbye.
Reflecting on Learning
As the class gathers around the rug for Closing Circle, the teacher initiates discussion to wrap up the day. The teacher reviews the events of the day, specifically focusing on the class’ accomplishments regarding content objectives and goals. To involve all students in Closing Circle, the teacher goes around the circle asking each student a specific question, targeting content learned in class that day (e.g., “What happened when we mixed the colors blue and yellow together?”; “What is one thing you learned from the story we read in class?”). After all students have responded to a question, the teacher acknowledges how much they have accomplished during the day to excite students and end the day on a high note (e.g., “Wow! We worked hard today and learned a lot. I bet we will have a ton of fun tomorrow, too!”). The teacher wraps up the day by leading the goodbye song to transition students to dismissal.

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