GEMS RoundTable Program Description

A GEMS RoundTable is typically a 30/30 RoundTable in busy schools and workplaces.  That is, the RoundTable lasts 30 minutes and everyone (e.g., 30 people) gets a turn to say something about the topic. The session begins with 5 minutes of scripted readings and is followed by 25 minutes of discussion. Introductory RoundTables are held for several sessions to establish guidelines for participation. When everyone is familiar with the format, the group is ready to begin Regular Roundtables. Regular RoundTables can be specific to the users, that is, the group can replace the introductory readings with content-based readings. Regular Roundtables can also be general, continuing with introductory or general readings. This is especially suitable in homerooms, advisory classes, and weeklong staff development.


In Introductory RoundTables, the scripted readings are similar for most groups and ensure that all participants are allowed to speak without interruption or criticism. For elementary students they typically are:

• Our Time • Our Purposes • How We Listen • How We Speak • How We Answer

RoundTables are held weekly in a classroom. The teacher is the group leader the first few times. He or she reads the leader's guide which opens the sessions, announces a suggested topic, and asks students to read the scripted readings. Moving around in the circle, each student has a turn to comment on the chosen topic. After a few sessions, students become the group leaders in a rotating process. By the end of the school year, every student has been offered a turn as RoundTable leader!

In staff and PTSA meetings, the RoundTable is held monthly. Topics could be suggested by the official leader or the leader-of-the-day. New readings might be selected by the whole group in a RoundTable revision session.

Over the years, we have learned that: Just as we break the sound barrier when we travel faster than the speed of sound, we break the communication barrier when we hear 30 viewpoints in 30 minutes.