Weekly check-in activity

Learning circles follow a method: check-in, coursework, activity or group discussion, and plus/delta. Checking in and plus/delta are the bookends of a learning circle.

We start each learning circle with a check-in exercise. This is a chance to tell us how you’re doing, what your goals are for today, and what you need help with.

For the very first learning circle meeting, you might consider asking the group:

  • Who are you? How are you doing?
  • What brings you here today?
  • Share a story about a meaningful learning experience.
  • Share a fun fact about the community you come from.
  • Tell us one thing that you can teach and one thing you want to learn
  • What is something you learned recently?

Instead of a question, you might also want to start with an exercise:

  • Start with chairs in lecture format. “You might be used to this type of setup for most learning environments. Teacher or the expert in front, students in the audience. Take a quick second to notice as this feels. Notice where the expertise or power is in the room right now, and where it is not, notice the feeling of control. I going to ask you to move your chair into a circle.” Move chairs into a circle. “How does this feel different?”
  • Class photo: Ask everyone during the check-in exercise to draw themselves on a post-it note
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Some ideas to consider:

  • Ask a different silly question each week (ex.what kind of cereal are you today?)
  • Use a talking stick or special totem to pass around. When someone has the totem, they are the only ones who can talk.
  • Take notes and summarize what peoples goals are and what they need help with at the end of the check-in

Personally, I like ice breakers that are relevant to the topic at hand, if that’s possible. Since my learning circles (so far) have been about writing fiction, I like to ask questions such as “what inspires you to write?” “Who’s your favorite author?” and “what are you currently working on, if anything?”

We did a nice icebreaker at a writing event where you had to find a book you had read in common with another person, then write it down. Neither of you could list the same book twice. It was fun, especially when people suddenly remembered childhood books–useful when their adult reading was vastly different. It was a competition to see who had the most books written down, which meant they had talked to the most people as well, so good for an icebreaker.

Oooohhh, I like this one! That’s such a great idea!