Learning Circles are online and in-person group sessions where educators and teachers are invited to come together to explore new content, share and reflect. 

Kathryn Main, Head of Practice, believes the sessions are a wonderful opportunity to learn at a deeper level together. 

The first learning circle emerged after our virtual conference during the pandemic restrictions of 2021. There was a curiosity about how to capture what learning people had taken away, how that was showing up in their practice, and what they were still wondering about. Also, how to maintain connection during a time of isolation. So, several online reflective sessions aligned with conference sessions were offered. 

Kathryn reflects “There was a great uptake by educators and what we noticed was a delight and pride in sharing stories, a curiosity for hearing other perspectives and experiences, new connections and new learning occurring”. 

At the same time, through school readiness planning, the ECE team were noticing common themes and points of inquiry emerging across services. It presented an opportunity to design a series of learning opportunities that created a new place for coaching to occur. “Coaching teams encourage growth and curiosity, and this happens best when people come together to learn. A bringing together of perspectives.”  

Kathryn suggests that “In these learning spaces, magic happens. Within the collective there comes a greater awareness of self and others, a recognition that often we are all wondering about the same things and grappling with the same issues. It offers a sense of connection through the sharing of stories and an appreciation that we are part of something bigger. It sparks new thinking and calls us to try new things”. 

This SRF coaching opportunity has expanded to include expertise from partners Alannah & Madeline Foundation (AMF) for trauma informed practice and Melbourne City Mission (MCM) for allied health focus areas. 

Each learning circle averages around 30 participants and generally spans across three sessions, each running between 2 to 3 hours. There’s usually four weeks between sessions giving time for participants to reflect and take learning back into practice. 

Whilst most people access learning circles through SRF funding, they are open to everyone. The coaching team celebrates the growth that occurs for individuals. “We have captured some lovely stories of educators who have stepped in (sometimes nervously) and yet contributed with such enthusiasm, leaving the sessions with confidence to try new things. We also delight in seeing Nominated Supervisors join hands with their Practice Coach and lead team learning”. 

Richness of learning comes from listening and being curious about other perspectives, knowledge and experiences, and learning circles are a wonderful forum for this. As Kathryn reflects “It doesn’t matter what your experience is, what your starting point is, learning circles can be a place for deep learning, connection and courageous conversations”. 

See you in the circle!!