Plenary Check-outs

Circle check-out

Purpose: Big group check-outs should end an intensive programme. As you come to end end of a workshop or programme, a plenary check-out is a good way to converge and tie off the experience. As it is the last moment in a day or programme, it should be focussed on a positive.

Materials: Space and chairs in a circle for every participant. A talking piece or closing action (i.e. dropping a postcard that will be mailed to them in 3 months in the centre of the circle)

Time: Depending on the size of the group, and the length of the experience (i.e. if it’s a one day program, each person can check out in under a minute. If it is a multi-day or multi-month process, then each person might need up to 2 minutes to check out).

Step one: Invite participants into the circle for a check out. Frame the experience - it can be helpful to reiterate all that has happened. Bring back whatever metaphor you have used throughout the experience, use some narrative. Set folks up to dig a little deeper than they might naturally. As it is the last ‘taste’ of an experience, it is important that the framing be strong. If needed, a facilitator should model how to check-out.

Step two: After setting up the ‘feel’ of the check-out, ask the check-out question. It could be along the lines of What is one thing you are taking from this experience that you will share with others? What is one thing you feel gratitude for? What has inspired you and will fuel your inspiration and work for going forward? What was one highlight conversation you had over the last 3 days? What was it about? With who? Then, open the circle for whoever wants to start. Explain that whoever feels called to begin may begin and the talking piece will pass to the left (clockwise). The talking piece will make its way around the circle twice, participants may pass the first time if they don’t quite know what to say and can wait until the talking piece makes its way around again.

Step three: Invite the participant who started to place the talking piece back in the centre of the circle. Then invite participants to stand and finish the day with a physical action (it could be a collective clap, holding hands, a cinnamon roll, etc.). This helps create a sense of closure and movement away from the experience/space.