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Holding Space Community Learning Page

In this guide, you will find resources and guidance on how to Hold Space in your classroom.

Creating a Learning 'Container'

Why should we attend to Relational Space?

Attending to Relational Space supports our purpose to transform lives and create a place of true belonging. Attending to relational space can help:

  • Nurture a community of belonging and wellbeing
  • Cultivate a growth mindset
  • Increase a sense of connection, purpose, trust, and safety
  • Enhance social-emotional intelligence through deep listening

What is relational space?

The relational space is the space that contains the experience and the relationality between the people in the experience. Transformational learning happens when we bring awareness to this space. Courses or meetings are normally focused on content. Transformative learning/meeting spaces also focus on bringing an awareness to the space which includes the people, what is present for each person, and to hold that in the collective awareness as a source of deep learning and transformation.

In any space, there are actors and constructs that are in relationship with each other. In our classrooms, the constructs might include aspects of the physical setting, the curriculum, the technology, and the actors might include students, teachers, and support staff such as advisors, counselors, navigators, policymakers, etc. The relational space is the interaction within and between these constructs and actors.

Relationships between 'actors' exist on multiple levels. Holding space in an intentional way can help support increased awareness and healing on these different levels.

1. Personal-level  - my relationship to/with myself

2. Interpersonal-level - my relationship with other people around me

3. Group-level - my relationship within a group, as a member of a group and between groups

3. System-level - my relationship to the larger system (socially constructed - impacted by worldview, history, power) and the natural ecosystem. 

Relationships also exist between the actors and the constructs. Being intentional and reflecting on these relationships can contribute to the above levels of awareness. Example constructs include:

  • Curriculum
  • Resources
    • Learning materials
    • Physical space
    • Tools
    • Technology
  • Expectations
  • Time
  • Worldviews and values (Culture)

There are also many variables that impact the nature of these relationships and outcomes. For example:

  • trauma
  • mental health
  • power
  • access to internal and external resources
  • social conditioning
  • unconscious bias
  • motivation
  • support
  • trust - mutual trust

How can I attend to Relational Space?

In this LibGuide you will find the tools you need to become more intentional in creating a container for your learners or team beginning with Holding Space. 

Where should I start?

  1. Find a group of other NorQuesters who would like to deepen their capacity to hold space in the classroom or team space and create a Learning Circle that agrees to meet together once a week or every 2 weeks for an hour using a circle practice to talk about the content in this LibGuide and share experiences from the classroom or team environment.
  2. Download the Circle Way Guidelines and use this as a way to get started or use another circle practice that you are comfortable with. 
  3. Practice creating connections with this group and then with your class or team. 
  4. Take turns choosing a topic/activity from the LibGuide and being the host of the circle. End with something you are going to try and then provide a place to share at the next circle what you notice or learned about relational space or holding space as a way to deepen your collective understanding and capacity to hold space. Your circle is a practice space and so debriefing the experience is a valuable source of insight and learning. The same thing can happen in the classroom or team when you take reflections up to a meta-level - beyond the content and into the relational space.
  5. Experiment with difficult topics in your Learning Circle and learn from what comes up from a holding space perspective that will help you hold space in the classroom or with your team.

Setting up your learning circle:

1. Create an agreement and intention (try the GroupWorks Cards or other cards that suggest ways of being together in groups)

2. Use a circle practice

3. Attend to the relationships in the circle to build trust and safety

  • within - presencing (connecting your mind, heart, body, and spirit) - notice what is happening internally for you - use grounding practices to start your circle.
  • between - have opportunities for one on ones or triads as well as whole group (look at the tabs for openings and closings)

4. Prioritize this and don't let other things bump it out of your calendar.