Take advantage of class endings, year completions, graduations and program finales to foster interpersonal support and interaction among youth. A Validation Circle engages youth to "validate" and celebrate their peers for something that they have done. This idea is a strategy used by the Take A Hike program when providing adventure-based learning opportunities for youth.
Here’s how it works. On the last night of their camping trips, group leaders organize a Validation Ceremony around the campfire. One at a time, each student is put in the “seat of honour” and everyone else has an opportunity to share something that they appreciate or admire. The ceremony is conducted in a circle where participants can see each other and hear each other speak. Before the activity begins, an adult reviews the rules for being in a circle, emphasizing truth and respect. Then each student, in turn, sits silently while they receive positive comments from the group.
Validation Circle In the Classroom
Even without the ambiance of a campfire, this activity works well in a classroom setting. Recreate the great outdoors in a class, the gymnasium or playground using a prop as a central focal piece for the circle.
Another adaptation uses a whiteboard or chalkboard. One at a time, invite a student to stand in front of the board and have their peers cluster around them and write positive observations and validations on the board. When everyone has contributed, the student can step away and soak in the collection of expressions. Alternatively, they may choose to have their photo taken in front of the board so they can wait to take in the validation in private.
The photos make a powerful take-home reminder. You might also want to post photos in the classroom - contributing to a “hidden curriculum” that supports positive relationships, empathy and confidence.
A school’s hidden curriculum is the implicit messages that children pick up from the environment. What images are on the walls? What is the emotional tone in the front office? How many adults greet children by name? How do adults treat each other? What is celebrated and what is expected?