Through the NJEA ACCESS program, consultants work with educators to develop skills and instill practices to create optimal learning environments. In December, ACCESS hosted meeting circles at Trenton’s Holland Middle School. Circles are a safe space to express, share, and grow.
Circles are safe havens
- They help us step out of ordinary time into a safe and accepting environment in which we can explore our healing.
- With open minds, we work together to discover the best ways to remove obstacles to healing, alleviate suffering, and deepen our capacity to heal.
- With open hearts, we access our own inner guidance to understand where the greatest healing—in body, emotions, mind and spirit—can occur.
Circles are built on a foundation of kindness and respect
Circle participants agree to:
- Treat each other with kindness and respect.
- Listen with compassion and curiosity.
- Honor each other’s unique ways to healing and don’t presume to advise or fix or try to save each other.
- Hold all stories shared in the circle in confidence.
- Trust that each of us has the guidance we need within us.
- Rely on the power of silence to access that guidance.
This circle was used to facilitate a school leadership team meeting. The room is set with about 20 chairs in a circle. A talking stick or a talking stone or talking item is used. The talking stick, used in many Indigenous cultures, is an ancient and powerful “communication tool” that ensures a code of conduct of respect is followed during meetings. The person holding the stick, and only that person, is designated as having the right to speak and all others must listen quietly and respectfully.
NJEA ACCESS consultant Angela Coxen works with the entire home school community of urban schools in New Jersey, offering support and guidance.
Coxen is a certified ACEs Interface Master Trainer and is recognized as a Healing Circle facilitator/host.
Prior to working for NJEA, Coxen served as the digital librarian for the Academy of Earth & Space Science, PANTHER in Paterson, NJ. At PANTHER Academy, Coxen redesigned the Media Center to incorporate 21st Century Digital Learning Skills for all.
All NJEA ACCESS consultants are trained in circle practice and use the practice when working with their schools.