What is a Learning Circle

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Learning Circles are one of the most powerful tools for your culture change journey. Learning Circles are a process where people come together

to communicate with each other. Using Learning Circles intentionally creates an environment where everyone is enabled to share their ideas, opinions, and experiences.

The goal of a Learning Circle is to develop common ground,

mutual respect, and trust among everyone in the organization. Learning Circles support sharing, discussion, and problem-solving built upon the idea that every participant has something to contribute and something to learn. Everyone can and should participate and share, including Elders, residents, direct care partners, families, managers, all departments, and all professions.

You can use them to gather ideas, hear different points of view, gain insight, and even make leadership decisions. They are also great for team building!

Learning Circles are…

  • A safe place where everyone has an equal voice.
  • A place where people are free to express their feelings and ideas without judgement.
  • An opportunity to look at an issue from different points of view.
  • A vehicle to discover, share, and express knowledge and feelings.
  • A chance to start where people are and encourage learning and growth.
  • A safe process for reflection and action.
  • A time to build relationships and get to know each other deeply.

How do you conduct a Learning Circle?

  • There are some ground rules that help provide for a respectful and productive experience.
  • It starts with a circle where everyone can come together and see each other with no distractions.
  • Participants can sit or stand. If there is someone that has to sit, have everyone sit.
  • Generally, there are about 10-15 participants.
  • This can vary based on the purpose of the Learning Circle and the time allotted.

There is a facilitator who will…

  • Let participants know the purpose of the Learning Circle.
  • Pose a question or share the topic.
  • Ask for a volunteer who wants to begin.
  • The circle continues to the right or left of the first speaker and goes once around the circle.
    • Each person speaks in turn.
    • Participants can pass.
    • LISTEN ONLY.
    • There is no cross-talk (comments or responses to what is being said).
    • Return to anyone who passed on round one. They can pass again if they’d like.
    • Open it up for discussion and encourage comments.
    • LISTEN more than you TALK.
    • Wrap it up.

What are some ideas and topics for Learning Circles?

  • Explore what you are learning about culture change and person-centered practices.
  • Share new ideas.
  • Plan an event.
  • Address a challenge.
  • Discuss how to integrate the Pioneer Network Values & Principles.
  • Hear what the ideal care community looks like to each person.
  • Understand what “home” means to each individual.

Learning Circles are powerful tools, but they are underutilized. Take the Learning Circle Challenge! USE LEARNING CIRCLES! Integrate them into your organization. Make them a regular part of what you do and how you communicate.

How can YOU and your organization use Learning Circles??

Thanks to Pioneer Network.

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