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Life at The Circle - A Walkthrough by Nivi Siddharthan

A month before I joined The Circle, I called my mom excitedly and said "My new job is going to reimburse me for books!" I was thrilled to be joining an organization that values reading and learning. Sandeep (The Circle's founder) had sent me a list of books to read, as well as other materials I could learn from. Over the next few weeks, as I went through the materials, my ideas of what great education and teaching could look like began to shift and evolve.

The learning didn't stop there. I soon realized that the emphasis on learning would remain an intrinsic part of The Circle's culture. Once we had a team in place, we all spent a couple of months reading and debriefing a book called “In Search of Deeper Learning” one chapter at a time at our weekly team meetings. Doing this has given us the vocabulary to talk about "deeper learning" and we find ourselves going back to phrases and concepts from the book quite often. The frequent debriefs were very productive because we have been able to build a shared understanding of what “deeper learning” is and isn't.

While I’ve really enjoyed the readings, my biggest learnings have come from school visits. I’ve just returned from a visit to Riverside in Ahmedabad, which is the most inspiring school I have seen so far. I’ve come back with lots of ideas and questions and the one that’s top of mind is “how do we redesign the report card to make it more meaningful and relevant?” Riverside doesn’t do traditional report cards; instead, they have end-of-the-year portfolios for each student which include feedback from teachers, peers, and parents as well as the students' own reflections on their journey documented through essays, pictures, and videos.

Another school visit that was powerful for me was our first one as a team. During a team retreat, we spent a day at Avasara Academy, which is a girls’ secondary school with a beautiful campus on the outskirts of Pune, surrounded by hills. Avasara follows the UK-based Cambridge curriculum and has a big focus on leadership, entrepreneurship, and contribution to society. Most of the students at Avasara (over 90%) come from low-income and disadvantaged communities. I was blown away by Avasara because it was my first time visiting a fancy, international school in India that serves kids from low-income backgrounds.

In addition to all this, I have also had the opportunity to attend and learn from sessions conducted by experts and leaders through our programming at The Circle Labs and during the week-long periods each month when our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence come together in person. One of my favorite online sessions was by Transcend on their Ten Leaps, which gave me a clear framework for thinking about the changes needed to make learning more equitable and relevant. I was also deeply impacted by the two days we spent with Dr. Home last month, learning about inner transformation, leadership, and mindfulness.

While interviewing at The Circle last year, I felt a little conflicted because I had also been thinking about applying to grad school. But over the past seven months, I’ve learned much more at The Circle than I could have learned through a formal degree program. I love working in an organization that really values learning. And because we care deeply about learning, our leave policy even allows for 2-3 learning days every year.

If this resonates with you and if you’d like to join us, then apply to one of our open staff positions. We’re looking forward to growing our team.

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