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About Council


Review Four Intentions:

-1) Listen from the Heart 2) Speak from the Heart 3) Keep it Lean 4) Be Spontaneous

- Review Confidentiality: No personal stories outside of Council.

(Exception: If teacher hears stories of drugs, alcohol, or feels someone might be harmed)

-Invite group to discuss possible prompt ideas or offer group some choices.

(You can also write prompt ideas in the outline below and check off the ones chosen.)

- Ask the group “Are we ready to go into council?” (If "yes," then proceed.)

-Warm-Ups/Icebreakers/Games (optional, before):

-Check-in: (Sometimes can be done after “Dedications”)

(e.g. weather report, one word/phrase, color, ice cream flavor, open-ended: "What's up?")

-Opening (optional):

(e.g. ring chimes or bell for centering)


(e.g. ring bell/chimes, stones/shells in water, jiggle beads or shells, pour water, elec. candle)

Possible Prompts:







Witness Round: (if time)

(e.g. “I heard someone say….;” one word/phrase, "I noticed that…")

Closing: (e.g. pass the squeeze, clap, stomp, facial expression; clap together; song, ask for ideas, etc).

Forming Council Questions & Prompts

Forming a good Council prompt is part of the Council facilitator’s skillset. 

Topics used to form prompts should be of interest to the whole group.  A good prompt is one that students feel they can respond to and will respond to. 

For example, if the topic were “fun,” a good prompt would be: Recall a time when you found yourself thinking, ‘Wow, this is really fun!’  You can add, “Wait for the talking piece to come, and then see what story comes to you.” 

Sometimes it’s good to start with an example or a "speed round" about the topic.  In this case, before giving the prompt to recall a time you thought something was really fun, you might first ask, “When we use the word ‘fun,’ what are we talking about?” This can get ideas going and help bring stories to mind.

A common way to start a prompt is with the phrase, “Tell about a time when”… or “Tell a story of a time when”… or “Recall an experience when”….

After giving a prompt it is a good practice to add "or anything else you wish to say!"  This reinforces the intention to be spontaneous and allows everyone in the circle to speak from the heart when they have the talking piece.

Good council prompts:

  • Are of interest to the whole group, not just the leader
  • Encourages each participant to share a story from their personal experience  (“Tell about a time when”…rather than “What do you think about”….)
  • Should be age-appropriate and school-appropriate

Creating questions and prompts requires a lot of practice.  Try different ways of turning topics into prompts that would help others to share stories in Council.

Council Process

Task 1: Create a Council Prompt

             a. Pick a topic that your class would find interesting.

             b. Form a good Council prompt for this topic.


Remember : A good Council prompt is interesting to the whole group and helps them tell stories based on their own experience.


Using one of the following question stems can be helpful: “Tell about a time when” or “Tell a story about a time when


Task 2: Conduct a Council:

              a. Set up a center with talking pieces.

              b. Remind everyone of the Four Intentions.

              c. Open (perhaps with a chime) and ask for dedications (or begin in some other way).

              d. Say the prompt (consider giving a brief introduction to the topic first).

              e. Invite others to pass a talking piece as they speak from the heart.

              f. Conduct a witness round (if there is time): "I heard someone say..."

              g. Close.



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