Relationship Circles Can Help Curb Loneliness

Doctor visits can be scary. The whole process starts in a room full of strangers that are all in some degree of discomfort. Then they take you back and make you wait in a small room for a undisclosed amount of time – alone. That’s followed by shared personal information, a diagnosis and a plan to get back to good health. I mean when I was younger I thought doctors were fun to talk with. Nowadays, they really don’t have many kind words to toss my way. Apparently, the fine wine and ageing thing doesn’t apply to me. I recently had the wonderful opportunity to visit with a medical professional. Wow, it was enlightening. I had a bit of a neck thing. I said it hurt when I did X, Y, or Z. Doc offered amazing advice! Avoid X, Y, and Z!! I left that meeting with a fresh appreciation for the simplicity of medicine. KISS – Keep It Simple…Solutions are the best kind.

That’s when I was introduced to Dr. Vivek Murthy. He doesn’t know we met. Beauty of the internet I supposed. He’s not even my doctor, he’s our doctor. Yes, the U.S. Surgeon General. He did have some news that involves us all. Loneliness and isolation are bad for you. Shocker I know. The problem is more and more people are feeling lonely and isolated. The full writeup is here. Dr. Murthy’s reveal, along with this news about feeling isolated in schools, has administrators searching for answers for their students and their teachers.

You’re not alone in your quest to curb loneliness. The folks at Kaleidoscope do a terrific job providing answers for educators. Relationship Circles have become very popular in building and repairing relationships. I used them in my prior life as a school administrator. There’s no angle to Circle. They are a tool to build a trusted community – for everyone.

  • Students feel connected to their peers and their teachers. Relationships matter. When we began Circle, the loudest critique was from a teacher. He said he needed some time to learn how to implement an effective Circle. He felt unprepared to lead the Circle himself. Working together to show benefits of structured communication through Circle is important feedback. A teacher also gave me the biggest compliment I had while leading Relationship Circle. She said Circle changed her least motivated students. As the year progressed, those students became engaged in the learning process. They told her she took the time to get to know them. They felt they were a part of something. She said it felt good to see them do well. That’s a relationship win! Larry Bernstein wrote “Student Engagement: Why it Matters“. He refers to Peter Dewitt, building principal. Dewitt believes relationships are the root of student engagement. “When students form close and caring relationships with their teachers, they are fulfilling their developmental need for a connection with others and a sense of belonging in society,” he says. Bye-bye isolation and hello progress!
  • Teachers and staff won’t say they feel lonely. We find out when they decide they don’t want to return. Keeping good team members is a lot more efficient than finding new ones. Circle with teachers to start whole staff meetings. Smaller groups like those in PLC or department meetings are perfect for Circle to take shape. Teachers appreciate the time to lessen the isolation that creeps into their job. They see thy are not along in their feeling on loneliness. New teachers leaned on Circle as a support. Their mentor/mentee relationship flourished. Veterans embraced getting to know what was on the mind of their peers. Our staff treated staff to start, Circle was like all other ice breakers that are new. Then, they craved it! They said they felt supported. They were given the chance to listen and be heard. It was healthy.

Students and teachers bask in the relationship glow when they are moving with their Daily Mile. One school counselor described it as a “relationship circle on the move.”

The Daily Mile is a KISS intervention. It brings people together around movement. What do you do to get your classes building rapport and feeling less lonely while on the move? Appreciate the help.

Keep moving!

Bill Russell

Program Manager

The Daily Mile USA