Skip to Main Content

Holding Space Community Learning Page

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

Talking Circles - Host Guides and Resources

A message from our President - August 11, 2020

Our shared commitment starts now

As I continue listening and learning from each of you, I envision a NorQuest that is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion—a place where we honour being Difference Makers by helping to change lives for the better.  

To do this, we must make our commitments clear. This means aligning our organizational priorities with anti-racism and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusive (EDI) efforts. That’s why we, the executive leadership team at NorQuest, commit to supporting and championing: 

  1. An equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) strategy and an Anti-racism Taskforce, and having greater visibility into the strategies and project plans to advance milestones such as diversity in leadership. 
  2. Resource allocation to hire experts in the fields of EDI and anti-racism to advance the work; to demonstrate the importance of this work, the anti-racism advisor will have a dotted reporting line to the President and CEO of NorQuest College. 
  3. A racially equitable and inclusive lens—utilizing talent and expertise at the college—to support staff and students issues/concerns and support purposeful and resourced evaluation of our policies, processes, and procedures. 
  4. A Journey of continuous reflection and self-directed learning for ourselves and continued listening and learning to the lived experiences by individuals of the BIPOC community through: 1) Allocating dedicated time on the Executive Committee (EC) agenda related to sharing of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) lived experiences, 2) participating in facilitated discussions to gain greater understanding and perspective on BIPOC worldviews. Furthermore, holding senior leadership and people leaders accountable for ongoing dialogue and training.
  5. Advocating for this leadership agenda internally and externally by dedicating appropriate resources in all areas of the college. 

We also commit to adjusting, reviewing, and revising these commitments on an annual basis.

Where are we at today?

  • We have created an EDI Council to advance our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy. A diverse membership group has been developed and the council will have its first meeting this month.
  • An Anti-Racism Taskforce with representation from the BIPOC community has been created and tasked with an internal listening campaign on issues of racism.

You will be hearing more about our shared commitments and plans in a future edition of In the Loop, starting next week.

With my best wishes,

­­­­­­­­Carolyn Campbell
President & CEO

Our Intention

To align with our purpose to transform lives and create a place of true belonging. We begin this through intentional practices, deep listening, seeing with new eyes, action, and healing. By learning and healing together with humility, vulnerability, and authenticity we seek to see NorQuest with new eyes, reveal the truth of our current state that leading to the development of a racial equity policy at NorQuest and real system change.

Dialogue Circle Intention

To hold sacred space to listen, speak, and promote racial healing through intentional practice. 

Circle practice is a held space for NorQuesters to practice listening and speaking from the heart and to allow a new future to emerge. The Circle is a sacred place to come together to practice listening, presence, witnessing, and build connections and nurture healing. It is not a workshop or training session but the sharing can be a place of reflection on learning done in other places.


 

Host Training: August 27 plus additional dates TBD Dates to be set (August 24-Sept 11)

Host Circles: every 2-3 weeks

Community Circles (Min 3 – Max 6 participants per circle plus 1 or 2 hosts) Meeting times to be determined by host and participants)

  • Circle 1: Sept 14 – Oct 9
  • Circle 2: Oct 12 – Nov 6
  • Circle 3: Nov 9- Dec 4

Design Thinking Design Sprint 1: Between Dec 7-18 (Stay Tuned for more details!)

What is racial healing and how were the Focus Questions chosen for each Circle Series?

Racial healing is a practice. Healing means: (Source: Racial Healing Handbook by Anneliese Singh, 2019)

  • Unlearning the stereotyped racial messages I have learned about my own race and the race of others,
  • Recognizing the wounds racism has caused in me, whether I am White or BIPOC and whether I am conscious of these nicks and tears to my psyche or not.
  • Opening my eyes to the costs of racism
  • I work to stop participating either knowingly or actively, in the system of racism and white supremacy that was designed to favour some people and not others.
  • I learn to notice how my race drives the differential privileges and access to needed resources I might receive.
  • Engaging in a process of proactive individual actions and strategies that I can practice throughout my life.

Healing from racism is something that BIPOC and White NorQuesters can to do side by side. There may be ways we diverge in our exploration of healing from racism but alongside we can learn to hold space for each other and get a peek into what another person from a different social identity or subject position might be doing to foster their part of healing from the pain and wounds of racism. We do this because our purpose is to create a place for transformation for our students and we are the ones who are holding the container for this to happen. It begins with us.

Learning and Healing Journey Guide

Guided by The Racial Healing Handbook, Anneliese A. Singh

Proposed Learning Journey Guide -  Focus Questions have been selected from the Racial Healing Handbook - Group Guide and handouts

  • Circle Series 1: Racial Identity (Sept 14 - Oct 9)
  • Circle Series 2: Internalized Racism (Oct 12- Nov 6))
  • Circle Series 3: (Re)Learning History (Nov 9 - Dec 4)
  • Design Sprint 1
  • Circle Series 4: Grieving and Naming Racism (Jan - Feb)
  • Circle Series 5: Raising Race Consciousness (Feb - Mar)
  • Circle Series 6: Micro and Macro Aggressions (Mar-Apr)
  • Design Sprint 2
  • Circle Series 7: Race and Relationships: Home, Work, Classroom (Apr-May)
  • Circle Series 8: Multiple Identities and Intersections (May - June)
  • Circle Series 9: Allyship, Co-conspirators, Co-disruptors (June - July) 
  • Design Sprint 3

Host Notes

Purpose of Circle Host Training Session
  • Gain some circle experience and confidence to host a circle
  • Learn some basics about Circle processes and protocol
  • Establish some expectations about the Anti-Racism work and how these Circles contribute to Racial Equity at NQC.
Why circle?

These are community-led and community-supported conversations that honour and center Indigenous wisdom in guiding our college community toward deeper relationships with ourselves and others to support racial healing and transformation.

What is a Circle Host?

A host is someone who helps create a safe and brave space for a small group of people to listen and share.

I am not an expert in Anti-Racism and this topic feels a little risky. Can I still be a host?

Yes. Being a host means that you gently guide a process so others can share stories, reactions, insights, etc. You will be prepared with some tools. For example, in the host training you will learn:

  • how to open the circle in a good way (what you can say and do)
  • how to establish group guidelines to promote safety and trust
  • how to guide the process through questions that will initiate and respond to sharing in a supported way
  • how to allow for space when difficult or heavy words and emotions are present
  • how to close the circle and allow people to move out of the space in a good way

What if I get triggered by something that is shared while I am hosting? I’m not sure if I can do a ‘good’ job then.

It is really important to recognize that this is a definite possibility and to be prepared so that you can be kind to yourself and have some options if you feel overwhelmed during the circle. Some of the ways we will work with this are:

  • It is a good idea to have two people co-hosting the circle and for this topic in particular, diversity can be important and helpful. Depending on the Circle practice you are following there are different ways to think about the various ways co-hosts can help support each other and the circle. We will explore some of these in the Circle Host Training.
  • Self-care is a very important part of this work and as a community of hosts, we will share ideas and resources.
  • There will be ongoing Hosting Circles where hosts will come together in Circle to share hosting experiences, learn from each other, and provide support through compassionate listening. This modeling and experience of support is an important part of the ripples of this work in our community. The Hosting Circle is an important part of how we deepen and expand what we are learning and seeing.
  • You will not be alone! In fact, this is a unique opportunity to experience personal and professional growth with a group of caring and engaged NorQuesters.

I’m going to be really busy and while I want to get involved I’m not sure if I’ll have enough time.
  • The fall term is busy but this is too important and we must make these conversations a priority at the college. These conversations are a priority for leaders who are ready to support us to find ways to create space for everyone to be able to engage.
  • Each circle commitment is three hours. This means that once a circle is formed we are asking that together you find three one hour time slots to meet. If the circle would like to continue then it will agree to commit to three additional meeting times. If someone cannot continue for the next one then they are able to step away after three.
  • Hosts time commitment is a minimum of 6 hours:
    • 2 hour Circle Host Training
    • at least 1 Circle Series (3x1hour)
    • a minimum of 1 Host Circle
  • Other
    • When you have found 3-6 people to join your circle, send a meeting request and book 3 times between Sept 14- Oct 9 for Circle Series 1.
    • Please see the options for finding circle participants below.

Who will be in my circle?

It depends! Here are some possible scenarios:

  • You may want to start out by practicing with some colleagues you feel really comfortable with already or who have similar roles or experience around this topic. In this case, you can ask specific people to join your circle.
  • Circles could be with your team if that is appropriate for your team. (Find three times for your team to meet in Circle around this topic)
  • There will also be an open way for people around the college to sign up. These individuals will be matched with a team of co-hosts. These circles could have people from all over the college and all roles.
  • There are also some variables that may influence circle composition (safety, vulnerability etc.) that we will explore as people step forward and express their preferences.

Here are two options:

Option 1: Circle participation is advertised in the Loop, on the Q, and in team meetings. NorQuesters are invited to sign up using Microsoft forms. (Co) hosts can come forward and make groups of 6-8 participants from the list of people who sign up.

Option 2: Hosts advertise or share a personal invitation with colleagues and then they develop a group from there onwards. Hosts will be provided an invitation script (host invite).

How many people will be in each circle?

Circles will be held through MS Teams for one hour (Min) so we are recommending a minimum of 3 and no more than 6 people with 2 co-hosts for a total of 5-8 per circle. This allows us to see every participant’s video or tile during the circle and will allow enough time for meaningful sharing. It is essential that each person commits to showing up all three times.

What’s the best way to prepare for the Circle Host Training?

Attend the two hour Circle Host Training and there are a number of resources that can help you get ready.

Circle Series 1: Racial Identity and Earliest Memories

Focus: Explore what you know about your racial identity and what you were taught (or not taught) about race and racism.

Welcome: To say when you meet for the first time. "Thank you for joining Circle Series 1. This Circle Series will meet three times each for one hour. It is important that you come to every circle. This helps build trust and safety and helps us move toward racial healing."

Step 1: Opening/Grounding:

Opening Day 1

  • We will begin every circle with an opening and grounding practice. We will also pass a virtual "talking piece". When you are "holding" the talking piece it is your turn to speak. When you have finished speaking you can say "I pass the talking piece or I am complete". In an online circle, your host will let you know when it is your turn to speak and who is next. If you have something in your home that you can use as a talking piece you are invited to hold it while you speak. In an in-person circle, a talking piece is passed around the circle. (2-3 mins)
  • I would like to begin this circle by acknowledging the land we are on. I would also like to acknowledge the circle as an ancient, universal form of social structure that has accompanied people in the development of community and identity since the beginning of time. I would also like to acknowledge that for some of us this practice of sitting in deliberate circles to dialogue, to listen to every voice, to receive one another's stories and experiences, to help make decisions and to learn from collective wisdom is an act of re-membering but for others especially our Indigenous brothers and sisters this practice has continued undisrupted through time. We are grateful for the generous sharing of Circle wisdom.

Grounding: Grounding practices help people bring their attention to the time and space that has been set aside for this important conversation. This helps everyone to be fully present and ready to listen.

Options:

  • Read a poem or quote that reflects the focus and helps people prepare for the sharing or activate intent. Please share your poem suggestions in the Teams Poetry Collection
  • Invite participants to close their eyes (if they are comfortable with this) and focus on their breath. Take three deep inhales for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 8 in silence or host can guide the breaths.
  • More Grounding ideas can be found in this LibGuide Under Facilitation Tools

Step 2: Touchstones /Agreements: We will also begin each circle series by reading the Touchstone agreements. These agreements and guidelines will help us take care of each other and take care of the circle. (2 mins)

Step 3: Activating everyone's voice: We will start every circle with a check-in round. This is a way to get to know each other and just check-in. At the first meeting ask each person to answer: Who are you?

Check-in Question options:

  • If you really knew me you would know that...
  • One thing that brought me joy today (in the last week) was ...
  • What is your weather like today? I'm feeling...
  • More check-in ideas can be found in this LibGuide under Facilitation Tools.

Step 4: Focus Question

Choose one or two focus questions for each circle meeting.  

Invite each person in the circle to share a story or respond to the prompt. Suggested Focus Questions for Series 1. Before starting this round it can be helpful to take a moment of silent reflection before starting. (2-3 mins per person)

Focus Question 1: Racism and NorQuest, what is it time for? What would you like to say about this?

Focus Question 2: Think back to the earliest time you realized you had a racial identity. It’s okay if you don’t remember all the exact details. Describe as much as you can about that experience here.

Focus Question 3: Describe the first time you saw racism happening. Were you the target of the racism, did you enact the racism, or did you witness the racism? Include a description of your thoughts and feelings at the time.

Focus Question 4: If you are White, describe a time when you felt you were “color blind”—when you tried not to “see” race. If you identify as BIPOC, share about how you coped with realizing that racism was a real thing that you needed to think about a lot. Include a description of your thoughts and feelings at the time.

Step 4: Reflection and Witnessing. In this step, the talking piece will go around the circle once more. Invite each person to share what they have witnessed, noticed, felt listening to the stories, or if there is something else they would like to add to the circle. Before starting this round it can be helpful to take a moment of silent reflection before starting. (2 -3 mins per person)

Step 5: Closing the Circle. We will end each circle with a closing round. This is important to help us move out of this shared space in a good way. First, our scribe will now share the notes. Please take a moment to look at them and if there is something that you are not comfortable with please let us know. We will post these notes in the team's folder to help deepen our learning at the college. (1-2 min)

Depending on the amount of time left each person can speak their thoughts into the circle or type into the chatbox. (2-3 min)

  • What are you leaving with today?
  • Share one word to indicate how you are feeling as you leave the circle.
  • What is one action you will take today, this week? (Self-awareness, noticing, learning, other)
  • More closing ideas can be found in this LibGuide under Facilitation Tools

Some Hosts may like to read a short quote or poem to close the circle. If you have favorites please share them in the poetry collection in teams

Observation Reflection Process for Scribe

Purpose: To collect themes, insights, and questions to help tell the story of racism at NorQuest. This harvest will be used to raise awareness and provide starting points for Design Thinking Sprints. These design thinking sprints may be focused on policy, procedures and practices.

Expectation: Each circle will have a Host and a co-host. The co-hosts role will be to take notes (without any identifiers individual, department, etc). The co-host can also help monitor the group and ask for a bell or moment of silence when something is shared that needs to be held with silence.

Guiding Questions for Scribe:

  • What are some of the themes emerging in today’s circle?
  • What are some specific insights that have been shared?
  • What questions have emerged?

.

Circle Series 2: Racial Identity and Socialization around Race and Racism 

Host Guide:

Welcome: To say when you meet for the first time. "Thank you for joining Circle Series 2. We will meet three times each for one hour. It is important that you come to every circle. This helps build trust and safety and helps us move toward racial healing."

Step 1: Opening/Grounding: We will begin every circle with an opening and grounding practice. (2-3 mins)

Step 2: Touchstones /Agreements: We will also begin each circle by reading the Touchstone agreements. These agreements and guidelines will help us take care of each other and take care of the circle. (2 mins) (This may only be necessary the first time this new circle meets since participants will have practiced the touchstones in the first circle series.)

Step 3: Focus Question Choose one or two for each circle meeting. Invite each person in the circle to share a story or respond to the prompt.

Suggested Focus Questions for Series 2. Before starting this round it can be helpful to take a moment of silent reflection before starting. (2-3 mins per person)

Focus Question 1: Racism and NorQuest, what is it time for? What would you like to say about this? What would you like to say about your experience in the first Circle Series?

Focus Question 2: Does the racial identity development model mirror your racial development? Which parts of it
match your experience? Which do not? Can you think of a story of an experience? (Share the linked document with the circle participants)

Focus Question 3: Describe the first time you saw racism happening. Were you the target of the racism, did you enact the racism, or did you witness the racism? Include a description of your thoughts and feelings at the time.

Focus Question 4: How were you socialized in general around race, racism, privilege, oppression, and White body supremacy?

Step 4: Reflection and Witnessing. In this step, the talking piece will go around the circle once more. Invite each person to share what they have witnessed, noticed, felt listening to the stories, or if there is something else they would like to add to the circle. Before starting this round it can be helpful to take a moment of silent reflection before starting. (2 -3 mins per person)

Step 5: Closing the Circle. We will end each circle with a closing round. This is important to help us move out of this shared space in a good way. First, our scribe will now share the notes. Please take a moment to look at them and if there is something that you are not comfortable with please let us know. We will post these notes in the team's folder to help deepen our learning at the college. (1-2 min)

Depending on the amount of time left each person can speak their thoughts into the circle or type into the chatbox. (2-3 min)

  • What are you leaving with today? (Feeling, insight, question, hope)
  • Share one word to indicate how you are feeling as you leave the circle.
  • What is one action you will take today, this week? (Self-awareness, noticing, learning, other)
Circle Series 3: Racial Scripts

Welcome: To say when you meet for the first time. "Thank you for joining Circle Series 3. We will meet three times each for one hour. It is important that you come to every circle. This helps build trust and safety and helps us move toward racial healing."

Step 1: Opening/Grounding: We will begin every circle with an opening and grounding practice. (2-3 mins)

Step 2: Touchstones /Agreements: We will also begin each circle by reading the Touchstone agreements. These agreements and guidelines will help us take care of each other and take care of the circle. (2 mins) (This may only be necessary the first time this new circle meets since participants will have practiced the touchstones in the first circle series.)

Step 3: Focus Question Choose one or two for each circle meeting. Invite each person in the circle to share a story or respond to the prompt. Suggested Focus Questions for Series 3. Before starting this round it can be helpful to take a moment of silent reflection before starting. (2-3 mins per person)

Focus Question 1: Racism and NorQuest, what is it time for? What would you like to say about this? What would you like to say about your experience in the Circle Series so far? What ripples are you noticing?

Focus Question 2: When you are born, racial scripts have already been laid out in the world, and those who raise you carry them out. What were the racial scripts the people who raised you were operating on?

Focus Question 3: Loved ones and others you are around teach you the typically unwritten and unspoken rules about racial scripts. Racial scripts can also be delivered explicitly through verbal messages about your race or other races. Even the absence of exposure to other races serves as a message. What were the expectations and norms of racial scripts you were taught?

Focus Question 4: Moving outside the circle of people who raised you, you learn about racial scripts from schools, places of worship, health care systems, government systems, and other settings. And you learn racial scripts from your culture, such as the media and culture-specific practices within your cultural group. What are some of the conscious and unconscious messages you learned from your racial scripts?

Focus Question 5: You are part of the overall system of racism and experience dehumanization. That dehumanization may look like silence, guilt, anger, self-hatred, and even violence or other patterns of disempowerment. What have you experienced as a result of racism and dehumanization? 

Step 4: Reflection and Witnessing. In this step, the talking piece will go around the circle once more. Invite each person to share what they have witnessed, noticed, felt listening to the stories, or if there is something else they would like to add to the circle. Before starting this round it can be helpful to take a moment of silent reflection before starting. (2 -3 mins per person)

Step 5: Closing the Circle. We will end each circle with a closing round. This is important to help us move out of this shared space in a good way. First, our scribe will now share the notes. Please take a moment to look at them and if there is something that you are not comfortable with please let us know. We will post these notes in the team's folder to help deepen our learning at the college. (1-2 min)

Depending on the amount of time left each person can speak their thoughts into the circle or type into the chatbox. (2-3 min)

  • What are you leaving with today? (Feeling, insight, question, hope)
  • Share one word to indicate how you are feeling as you leave the circle.
  • What is one action you will take today, this week? (Self-awareness, noticing, learning, other)

Diagram of four dimensions of racism institutional, structural, interpersonal, internalized

Social Change Ecosystem info graphic

Circle Sharing/Reflection Question: Look at the following infographic. DO any of these descriptions resonate with you? Tell a story about a person you have met who modeled one of these roles or about when you took on one of these roles. What is it like to be in one of these roles? What do you admire about someone who performs a different role than you?

Source unknown - If you have information please advise the libguide creator (Found on facebook)

Layers of action toward becoming antiracist

Source unknown - If you have information please advise the libguide creator (Found on Facebook)

Circle Prompt/Reflection Questions: Share a story about being in one of the different zones. What happened? What did you notice?