Working with 20 - 30 participants willing to learn from each other?
Here is a way of blending the learning experience in a respectful way, maximising the learning for all concerned.
Make sure you have self-study materials comprising 6 different examples of: ‘challenging situations’, or ‘puzzles’ or ‘problems’ labelled A, B, C, D, E and F.
On the day
Divide the participants into six groups by issuing one 'random' playing card to each participant as they enter the room and inviting them to sit at specific tables. Make sure you have five each of 1 (A), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (use multiple packs of cards)
To ensure that each group has a unique task AND they have good reason to listen to each other, issue the materials as follows, giving some overlap of materials between the groups:
Study, Solve, Come to an Agreement…
Some groups will work twice as quickly as the average, some groups will work half as quickly as the average. Let the groups work until they have finished with at least one piece of material. Stop when at most two groups have worked with all their material. In emergencies you can issue one more piece of material to ‘early completers’.
In order to involve as many groups as soon as possible during the share session, invite the groups to share their answers, solutions and responses with the whole group following this pattern:
Invite the groups to reconvene and discuss the ‘best solution’ to their material based on the additional input from the group.
Invite each participant to write down what they need to remember for later.
When you have twenty or so people in a room and you wish for them to interact and learn from each other - here are some powerful and effective strategies
This is a low body energy, high spirit energy activity. Keep it sacred.
This is a high energy, almost combatative activity. Keep it real. Keep it civil.
Take care to alternate strategically between bringing out the similarities and bringing out the differences. Asking about similarities will build concensus, a sense of right-right, we agree, we are right, we are alright. Asking about differences will build competition and a sense of I am right / You are wrong. Let's fight about this!
Bring out the similarities.
Pause after each participant has spoken, to ask:
Bring out the differences.
Pause after each participant has spoken, to ask:
Break and rotate
After every two or three perspectives, notice which participants are over-energised, or under-energised. Break the circle turn-taking pattern to invite immediate verbal contributions of perspectives from them, "Can you give us an example of that?".
Be careful to return to the right place in the circle turn-taking to continue.
Raise the Energy
To raise the energy in the group ask the participants to (in order of increasing energy and commitment):
Leader encourages visibility by inviting the participants:
Lower the Energy
To lower the energy in the group, ask the participants to:
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month feels auspicious enough to be setting goals for the coming year.
As a coach, I ask open-ended questions to guide people in uncovering what's next for them. Here, I answer such questions for myself, in a self-coaching session.
What is important to you?
Once all my basic food, safety and comfort needs are met... it's being part of the evolution of the education system. That's been a significant theme all my life, I am always nudging the system to wake up and take better care of the people it is supposed to serve - the teachers and the learners. The more I am involved in the education system, the more determined I become to make a difference. There's so much still to do, and so much to gain from a more evolved state. I want to see the education system evolve so that it serves higher levels of human needs.
What do you want most of all?
I would love to watch how the education caterpillar turns into a butterfly. I want to be there on the day when it happens. I want to be part of the happening. I don't know what happens after that. That is as far as I can see my life. I am drawn to that time with full curiosity and a sense of adventure. I long for it even though I sense there would be an end to something important in my life.
And what is one good step you could take in the right direction?"
They are all good steps. Any step that takes me to where I am involved with people in the education system whether it be the caterpillar state or the butterfly state. Some steps are tougher to take, I tend to take the easier route most of the time. Then I get frustrated about how long the journey is taking; and take a short cut even if it's tough.
When are you at your happiest?
Writing! You knew I was going to say that. Writing is still new for me and I am getting better and better at it. Being in the writing process is when I am the happiest. Time melts away, hours flow into each other. Not so sure about the results. When I share what I have written, I realise I need to rewrite and how much more there is to write about.
When you feel life is most meaningful, what is it that you are doing?
Talking about how teaching and learning interact; how teachers and learners interact. And how to create spaces where such interactions occur at their best.
I'm mostly involved with teenaged and adult learners but what I am doing is the same - I'm holding learning conversations. I get to see the light go on, I hear the ah-ha's, I am part of their emerging understanding. Just imagine, in a small way someone goes from not-understanding to understanding, and all I did was to ask a couple of open-ended questions, and wait. What could be better?
How can you get more of that?
For a moment I was tempted to say do more of the face-to-face learning conversations, but that would take more effort than my body can provide. There's a limit to how often I can do that. No, what's calling for my attention is to get more out of each interaction. More, as a quality, not a quantity.
So, I will get more out of each learning conversation; write them down maybe. Yes, journal the learning conversations, make a book out of them. Now that would be something I could read over and again.
What have you decided to do differently in 2019?
I am going to journal my learning conversations with teachers and learners, then make a book out of them.
Proposed Goals for 2019
Thinking about goals for 2019:
I'd like to begin by asking a question, "Whose responsibility is it that a student passes the course that you are teaching?"
Naturally, as teacher you want as many students as possible to pass, and get the highest grades possible. You know from personal experience that their grades can make a difference to their lives. Certainly the student's parents will probably expect you to do everything that you can to get their son/daughter through the course, and get the best grade possible. Some parents may be more actively involved.
Now that puts you in a tough situation. Not only you but the dozens of parents connected to your class want you to do your best, and those high expectations put a lot of pressure on you to prepare the best lessons, be clear about the goals and expectations, motivate the students to learn, plus follow up and grade their work fairly and accurately. Phew! That's a job!
Luckily coaching will make this job very much easier for you because "Managing Progress and Accountability" is all about empowering students to make the right choices for their lives, by themselves!
According to the ICF description what you need to do is hold attention on what is important for the student, and to leave responsibility with them to take action.
That might sound like leaving all the work up to the student, however there's a lot you can do, as coach, to increase the chances that the student takes actions that they will be proud of.
Here are some of the things you can do:
Clearly request the student to take actions that will move them toward their stated goals. "What are you going to do to get closer to your goal?"
That implies that you know what the student's goals are. Sometimes students hide behind the phrase "I don't know" when you ask them about their goals. This can be because they are afraid of stating a goal, since it will give you the means to make clear requests of them for action. In such cases it's vital that you unearth the student's goals before you put more effort into managing progress and/or accountability. There are plenty of activities and exercises for doing this. It should be pointed out that the student's choice of not having goals is in fact a choice. They have made the choice of allowing other people to set goals for them. They have opened themselves to the risk of being forced into a life they don't want to live, or a life that leaves them ultimately disappointed. It's a choice, and as such should be respected. And as a coach your job is to make it possible for the student to become enlightened to the character of the goal that they have passively set. Ask them to think about people who made a similar choice of having no goals, and to consider asking these people how satisfied they are with their lives. Often just imagining this process will be enough to encourage studnets to set some sort of goals... and that's enough.
Other things that you can do as coach are:
Demonstrate follow through by asking the student about those actions that they committed to during the previous session(s). Just be curious and ask "What did you do? What did you learn? What did you achieve? What did you experience...?"
Acknowledge the student for what they have done, not done, learned or become aware of since the previous coaching session(s). Sincerely say "That's great", where appropriate, honestly say "You made an effort there - and the results were smaller than you expected or hoped"...
Effectively prepare, organize and review with student the information that comes up in the sessions. This can be a case of writing things down in a more convenient way, so that the student has something to put in their pocket or diary, for example. Ideally you should get the student to do this themselves, and they may need to experience the benefits before they take the initiative to organise themselves in this way. Role model!
Keep the student on track between sessions by holding attention on the coaching plan and outcomes, agreed-upon courses of action, and topics for future session(s). That's a question of checking with the written plan from time to time, and making checklists of topics and research material, and checking that progress is being made.
Focus on the coaching plan but is also open to adjusting behaviors and actions based on the coaching process and shifts in direction during sessions. Naturally the course of the coaching session is less than a straight line. It's more like riding a skateboard!
Be able to move back and forth between the big picture of where the student is heading, setting a context for what is being discussed and where the student wishes to go. This simply means that you move between the macro and micro perspectives and make sure they are included in a balanced way across the coaching sessions.
Promote the student's self-discipline and hold them accountable for what they say they are going to do, for the results of an intended action, or for a specific plan with related time frames. Just let them know that you care that they do / don't do what they said they would do / not do. Saying "I notice that you smell of cigarettes, and remind you that your goal is to quit", is more coach-like than "You said you would stop smoking!"
Develop the student's ability to make decisions, address key concerns, and develop themself (to get feedback, to determine priorities and set the pace of learning, to reflect on and learn from experiences). Asking "How well does the current pace of learning match your needs?" will encourage the student to realise that they do have some influence on the pace.
Where necessary, positively confront the student with the fact that they did not take agreed-upon actions. By repeatedly reminding the student that they always have a choice in what they do, you will guide them away from giving endless excuses, and empower them to make better choices in the future.
I enjoy speaking with people about coaching and teaching. Do you have an hour to invest in a learning conversation?
Click on the button to see when I am available, and book a call. Let's talk.
I am a teacher, a business-owner, a public speaker, a coach and an author.