User’s Guide

We have tried to make the Guide as user-friendly as possible. Objectives, summary agendas, preparation lists, and lists of handouts are provided at the beginning of each session. Special facilitator notes occur throughout detailed agendas, and italicized text highlights those sections meant to be spoken aloud.

Breaking Bread Together: Including Food

We designed this Curriculum with potlucks in mind, and encourage you to share a meal together at your sessions. Session 2 explicitly suggests that participants prepare a dish for potluck as homework for the following session, and many groups enjoy this so much that they continue to hold one at each session thereafter. A lot of warmth and congeniality can come out of this practice, and we find that groups who share food tend to stick together longer.

To keep sessions to under two hours in length, you could eat together while doing the opening “go-round” (see Notes on Openings below).

Notes on Openings 

The “Opening” section of each session follows the same format. We allot thirty minutes for the opening. Be sure to post, announce, or distribute copies of the Summary Agenda during the opening. Here are the components of the opening:

  1. Opening Reading
  2. Go-Round
  3. Review and Overview

We suggest possible opening readings for each session, though you are encouraged and invited to think of your own, or to ask participants for suggestions. All the opening readings suggested in the Guide, as well as others, are available on our website at http://localcircles.org/facilitators-corner/opening-and-closing-readings-for-clubs.

During the go-round, you will go around the circle and ask everyone to say a few words. During the first few sessions, we suggest a question or topic they could address. In later sessions, this becomes an informal way of checking in with each other, and participants are invited to say whatever feels most important to them. If possible, spend 20 minutes on the go-round. If your group has a potluck, consider doing the go-round over food. See notes above on balancing participation during the go-round, including using the wristwatch trick.

We provide notes to guide the review and overview section in each session.

Notes on Closings 

  1. Evaluation
  2. Next Meeting and Homework Assignment
  3. Closing Reading

Similarly, the “Closing” section of each session follows the same format. We allot 10 minutes for it. The first part is an evaluation. We encourage you to ask a participant to lead the evaluation, especially in the later sessions. This develops group ownership of the sessions, and also frees the facilitator to focus more clearly on the feedback.

During the evaluation, the leader asks the group: what worked well today, and what suggestions do you have for the way we structure future sessions? This isn’t a time to revisit the content of the session, but rather a time to think about how to ensure that future activities work well for the group. When wrapping up, try to solicit positive feedback about the meeting to leave things on a positive note.

Consider letting the Resilience Circle Network know the feedback you hear about the session so we can improve the curriculum. Note that after Session 6, participants will also be invited to fill out an online survey on the Resilience Circle website, at http://localcircles.org/?p=4254.

When you talk about the next meeting, see if any participants would like to facilitate any of the sections or take on other leadership. Also, identify volunteers to coordinate food, if that is part of your meetings, and/or make reminder phone calls.

All the homework is listed on the Resilience Circle website: http://localcircles.org/homework. You will probably want to bring a few hard copies of readings for people who do not have computer access. It is highly recommended that you or someone else email the group a link to the homework assignment shortly after the meeting.

Finally, each meeting may close with a closing reading appropriate to your circumstances. We suggest a reading for each meeting, and other options are available on our website, http://localcircles.org/facilitators-corner/opening-and-closing-readings-for-clubs.

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