Fort Collins, Colorado
Entering a kindergarten classroom where twenty, 5 year olds greet me
with smiles, hugs and excitement makes driving across town for half an
hour absolutely meaningful and my job feel more like playtime than a
vocation. I am the “Peace Circle Lady” to some and “Miss Kiri” to
others. I teach a skill that the children cannot necessarily name in
words but are well aware that it makes them “feel good”. I am thrilled
to represent “feel good”, it keeps me excited about returning to the
circles to listen to the children speak from their hearts to their
classmates about how they are treating and being treated by one another
and how their relationships feel. Expressing how one feels and what one
needs is an amazing experience to hear from a kindergartener and becomes
a necessary tool as they mature into the higher grades.
It is a well known fact, that when one feel listened to, even if what is said or heard is something that is difficult, it elicits a “feel good” internal response. When people are in a “resourced” or comfortable place, which I also call a “peaceful place” their ability to respond to their environment with compassion and acceptance, no matter what happens, is more likely to be positive with a increased willingness to cooperate.
When students in higher elementary grades have the opportunity weekly to speak to their peers in this safe environment about what occurs between them and say it respectfully they tend to feel more comfort in belonging in school. Teachers witness better performance with greater care for their work and attentiveness in the classroom.
Another well known and very unfortunate fact, is the epidemic of bullying occurrences in the schools. This preventative restorative justice practice (peacekeeper circles) is one way to get the persons in conflict to speak to one another, eye to eye and heart to heart, where they speak and listen to what each other’s perspective is, on the situation, and can quickly heal the harm with sincere apology being witnessed in a respectful manner by their classroom community.
Here are a few of quotes from a 4th grader about the peace keeper experience: (**notice the compassionate nature this person expressed**) Then enjoy the Buddhist quote following this wise 10 year old.
“I like peace circle because, I get to talk out my problems”
“I learned that when I am positive it affects others and makes them happy too”
“Peace circle helped me by letting me feel comfortable with my surroundings and made me feel like no one will “tell on” people and make a fight.”
(** the thought here is exprssing that they have the opportunity to listen to other’s grievances and it’s not the old way of tattling on each other, they are respectfully listening and taking in what is said.**)
“When I listen to my classmates talk about how they feel I get sad and if they have a grievance, against them I will feel sorry for them.”
“When I hurt someone’s feelings I now know that I have to say I am sorry,
and MEAN it. (I am very sorry in my heart)”
“When I think of our peace circles in our class I know I will remember not to argue if someone gives me a grievance. I will apologize and say I am sorry by my heart”
A Buddhist quote:
Love and compassion make us feel safe because they express the safety of their source—the deep Buddha nature within us, the unchanging inner space of primal awareness that cannot be harmed…