Belonging

…is trusting that I shall be understood and find support from people around me when I need it; the opposite is feeling ‘alone’ or left out.

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This dimension is about how much I feel part of a ‘learning community’, a group with a shared commitment to learn, improve and do better, whether at school, at work, at home or in my wider community. It’s about the confidence I gain from knowing there are people around me whom I learn well with and to whom I can turn when I need guidance, support and encouragement in my learning journey.

People who are weaker in this dimension may feel left out, or out of place, ‘not fitting’ into their learning community: a ‘square peg in a round hole’.

Effective learners are likely to have confidence in the supportiveness and collective interest they find in, and receive from, people they learn and collaborate with. They acknowledge that there are important other people in their lives who help them learn, though they may vary in who those people are, e.g. family, colleagues, friends or teachers. They are able to form ‘relational trust’ and make use of others as resources, as partners, as team-workers and as sources of emotional support, without becoming dependent upon them. They know that effective learning may also require times of studying – or ‘dreaming’ – on their own and feel safe to do this too.

The contrast pole is being isolated, split-off or lonely. Less effective learners are likely either to find it more difficult to relate to others on their learning journeys or to have found themselves in an environment where they feel out of place and unsupported.

 

  • Fosters positive, respectful relationships with other learners, colleagues, fellow students
  • Understands the value of teamwork and cultivates collective responsibility
  • Is confident enough to develop and enjoy trusting relationships
  • Seeks out and makes a positive commitment to communities of shared values and interests

 

  • Make a list of people who can help you learn: at work, at home and in your outside interests. Next to each one, write down what they are good at: ways they can help; projects and skills they can help with. This is your ‘Learning Team Sheet’.
  • Imagine whose team sheet you might be on and what they’d say you are best at.
  • Create a learning environment for yourself in your private area: clear space to set out your work; all you need within easy reach; no interruptions or distractions; an atmosphere of welcome and concentration that you look forward to being in, whether a break out area, meeting room or a space at home
  • Build quiet time or ‘thinking time’ into your schedule
  • Work with your colleagues and collaborators to create similar spaces, and times, when it feels ‘OK to be me’ and belong
  • Pay as much attention to developing a collective identity as to developing an individual identity: make the idea of ‘a learning community’ real and tangible – one of the core goals of the group or team
  • (as above) See all recognition and reward as belonging to the whole team