Student will be exposed to the healing and cummunal qualities of the drum circle first. Each student will then get a chance to lead a rhythm after describing a difficult time in his/her life or expressing a diverse quality that they are proud of and would like to have others understand. All students in the drum circle will join the rhythm in an empathetic and cathartic understanding of each individual. The process builds community, empathy, creativity, and develops self awareness and positive energy.
I see this as a very low tech, but possibly high tech activity, depending upon the available supports of an institution. It is a cross curricular activity as well! Some schools can use their desks, some schools may choose to use small child sized drums, others may choose to use drums on the iPad. Whichever way the students can take part, it will allow them to develop and increase their ability to express themselves (social emotional domain), learn & develop patterns (mathematics skills), create and share their experiences with one another (develop empathy!!!), support one another through a shared experience (working as a team), increase their vocabulary along with their pattern of story telling (Language arts), and recognize ability and leadership in oneself (Self efficacy and self-esteem building). Self regulation would also be a possible use for this activity as it could be used for a child who is having difficulty in a situation and can be allowed to go to a corner or other quiet room with a counselor to express him/herself if necessary. The drum circle allows for students to connect personally and socially. Having all students join into the beat of the person telling the story signifies and symbolizes affirmation and understanding for the person telling the story. The steps that I would take to begin this activity are as follows:
All will take turns creating a rhythm which everyone will try - develops support of one another from the beginning without being threatening!
To make this a safe experience for all students, the teacher, a guidance counselor, or respected older students would demonstrate a rhythm and share a personal story and everyone could tell something special and/or unique about him/herself. Then, individuals can share, if comfortable, a difficult period of time or a diverse quality about his/herself that he/she is proud of and wants others to know about him/her.
No one will be forced to take part and will occur more than one time to ensure that everyone who would like to participate will be able to participate.
Adults and older children in the circle would support all children by helping to take part in the rhythm even if others are reluctant at first (those children who have difficulty with fine and gross motor would be assisted via big buttons connected to a computer, iPad, etc. , or by hand over hand guidance to be able to take part with the ).
Following the sharing of stories within the drum circle, everyone will work together to develop a group rhythm that supports all story tellers and can be used to de-escalate and calm participants in t he future, can be used to open future drum circles with the same participants, and can welcome newcomers.
Closure can include everyone sharing a positive story, word, note, with the chosen group rhythm or a new upbeat rhythm.
After continued use with group on a regular basis - once a week or twice a month - the students in the group can take this to other classes to lead groups with younger children or others within the school. It can be with older children if they feel confident, and with children in special needs classes . I would push for integration of children with special needs to make this an inclusive experience.
This can lead to later forms of expression, such as art projects, and movement projects - dance, exercise, signing - that would enable stories to be told and shared across modalities.
Data can be collected in the form of a questionnaire - simple picture ones with a smiley face or sad face or neutral face if they enjoyed the experience, feel better, etc. to more detailed written questionnaire's for older participants. Data can also be collected by the lead - teacher, counselor, etc - by noting following the experience who participated, the types of stories told, how long the stories were, etc. It would also be important to note if a particular student might need more time to speak one on one with a counselor based upon a story told or if a student appears to be frightened or extremely disengaged.