Council, a weekly 30-minute class offered in all grades, is an integral component of Seven Arrow’s social/emotional program. It allows students to share and listen to one another on a topic chosen by the teacher. This time is used to resolve conflicts or to discuss a core value or issue with which the students may be dealing. Students are asked to share and listen from the heart, giving them an opportunity to voice their opinions or concerns and to experience understanding, acceptance, and a feeling of responsibility for one another.
The Council program is based on the idea of creating a sacred space where all involved feel safe enough to express their innermost thoughts and feelings. Participants sit on the floor in a circle and speak only when holding a “talking piece,” which is passed from person to person. The Council is directed by a teacher who poses a topic or question for reflection. Participants may choose to respond to the question at hand, share something different, or pass. What is shared in Council stays in Council to maintain the safety of the space.
Council has been a tremendous asset to our program; it allows teachers to learn more about students and vice versa. Council topics have included “Do you feel you are part of a group, or not part of a group? How does that affect you?” “What does it mean to be a good friend?” and “What inspires you?” Students’ responses are poignant, deep, and often surprising. The success of the program has led to the facilitation of periodic Councils for staff members and for parents.