Many circles make use of a talking piece, a physical representation, such as a toy microphone or a “small, soft toy; a special stick or stone; a rattle or gourd; or some other object that can withstand being passed around the class multiple times” (Center for Restorative Processes). The talking piece is physically passed around to each participant to give everyone a chance to respond to the issue being discussed. The talking piece serves as a visual reminder that only the person in possession of the talking piece has the floor. The talking piece helps resolve the issue of any one person dominating the discussion. It also encourages active listening and provides focus for the one point being made at the time.
Photo by Christina S. Murrey
While participation in the circle is highly encouraged, participants are not forced to comment. They may “pass” the talking piece at any time. Ground rules for participating can be a main issue addressed during the first couple of weeks of class, and students can be reminded of the ground rules should communication break down in the group.
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