This little tool appears in a few books from Inclusion Press, which we always use in the training and workshops we’re part of (always shop there first – they’re pioneers in our field who we should support).   I also use it in every single class I teach, about anything.  When I teach about leadership I get people to diagram the leaders they know and the leaders they could get to know and what their potential leadership networks are on this diagram.   When I teach about development through the lifespan I use it to explain research methodology and it leads into Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory of development.  When I work with kids or self advocates we often use it to look at relationships and vulnerabilities and how these interact.   There are about six other ways I used it, so far, and I’m sure I’ll discover more in the future.

It is also pretty much the tool that I get the most feedback on from past students, who will often send me messages saying things like “In my new job I use this every day” supporting kids or adults with disabilities or families.   I used to tell people that the most valuable thing they could learn was how to draw four concentric circles, but it was too intimidating, so we just started giving them handouts.

Using the tool gives us a fast way to find out who is in our tribes, and who might be in the future, and this leads to lots of clues.  It also gives us a sense of how important networks are and why and an opportunity to talk about the research that continues to accrue around health, brain development, aspirations and quality of life.

At the event self advocates learned about how they bring new people into their networks, but also about how they might move people out who they no longer felt so close to…  a great lesson in self determination and assertiveness!

I think there are ways we can even use this tool as a person centered planning tool by diagramming and activating networks and then, stand back!  A useful theory for planning is that we *are* our networks – and if this is true, who are we and who do we want to be?  It’s all about relationships.

However, more usually it is a tool to prepare for person centred planning as in the BC EdAccess 2019 conference workshop where it will be our single focus.   Hope to see you there!

circles redo - Copy

This workshop is usually done as an interactive presentation and we have done it in mixed groups, for professionals, team members, self advocates and parents in 1 – 2 hours.

For more information on this or other workshops or services we can assist you with, or if you have questions or feedback about our work, please contact us aaron  the work of imagineacircle – our collaborative team of presenters, researchers and facilitators, is on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.