Inquiry & Learning for Change

LA County “Circle of Fire” exercise

Graphic Brainstorming, the 'Circle of Fire'

Los Angeles County Office of Education, Division of School Improvement, School District Consultant Team Community of Practice

We called this exercise, “The Circle of Fire.” The exercise was part of a workshop I&LC designed and facilitated (as a part of a three year contract) for consultants in the LA County Office of Education who represented expertise in a variety of areas needed to support whole district systemic reform. Those people formed district consultant teams. I&LC worked over three years to help the teams form a community of practice that supported building knowledge and skill in their professional activities as consultants with the school districts that LACOE served.

LA County clients work to create the Circle of Fire

The “Circle of Fire” was our attempt to use brainstorming and collaborative graphic representation to convey “whole system” coherence in school district reform work. It was an exploration of all the interconnected facets of work (which we divided into “pie slices” and then re-assembled into a whole “pie”) for the consultants so they could support school districts to align, and make coherent, policy and practice, in systemic redesign.

Brainstorming elements of the Circle of Fire

The “pie slices” were:

  • Professional Development
  • Governance
  • Fiscal
  • Human Resources
  • Parent & Community Involvement
  • Data Systems & Monitoring, and
  • Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment.

Each slice had six “layers,” which we portrayed in concentric circles, representing the learner, the classroom, the teacher professional community, the school, the district office, and the school board and community.

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