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It gets the students out of the classroom into the fresh air
and encourages them to think in a different capacity than usual
During the last week of term I took my students to the learning
circle we have on campus.
This is a series of wooden seats supported by stone, arranged in a
circular shape around a central fire circle. The site has been set
aside and consecrated by the Darkinjung elders, our local Aboriginal
people, as a place of learning. Forbidden are papers, pencils,
rubbish, cigarettes and all forms of technology. Upon entering the
learning circle, all people sharing within it are treated equally.
I took my students there to reflect on their TAFE journey so far and
their hopes for the future. I asked them to choose two images from my
language cards that represented these ideas.
Then we broke into pairs. Each pair shared their learning journeys
over the last six months. And how their study has enabled them to see
a new and clear pathway to their future.
Each person then shared their partner's story with the whole group.
It was wonderful to hear how the students had grown in confidence and
many had bright hopes for the future. It was here that I expressed my
desire to help people overcome their barriers.
During the course of our working careers, many of the students we
teach will have some type of barrier to their learning. Whether it's a
physical or psychological barrier, it can be a real stumbling block
for them. I feel that it's a great privilege to be in a position to
make a positive impact on people's lives with support and encouragement.
The learning circle is a wonderful teaching activity. It gets the
students out of the classroom into the fresh air and encourages them
to think in a different capacity than usual. Sharing and a sense of
community are both important aspects of the TAFE experience. The
learning circle provides a platform for everyone to join and share
without prejudice. It encourages students to be honest and open in the
conversation and this allows for a richer learning experience.
Reflection and evaluation are key to learning. They allow students to
see if they've achieved a goal. Or to clarify and absorb their
understanding of what they've learnt in class.
By and large, teachers are creative in how they ask students to do
this. Many teachers now ask their students to blog about their
learning experiences. I'm a keen advocate for blogging. But the
learning circle provides a different form of reflection that
technology can't create. Face to face interaction allows the group to
share nonverbal gestures. These can represent great depth in thinking
The learning circle, like technology, is a tool for learning and one
I will continue to use in the future. It doesn't matter if your TAFE
campus doesn't have one. Just bring some chairs outside and form a
circle on the grass in the sunshine. Then take a moment to savor the
learning that's happening with your class.