Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Workshop 3: Small Group Teaching

I've always known I enjoyed small group teaching and thought I was fairly good at it. I think I'm quite good at sensing the mood of individuals, developing good relationships. It shocked me then to realise how little I know about making a session really interactive and collaborative. There are a lot of small group techniques that I've never tried, including some very simple approaches like using a variety of question types to get my classes thinking and discussing and I've never had an opportunity to set team tasks. I'm not sure how this would work in the WebLearn environment but I need to think hard about it and become more confident to try new things.

Listening to others it sounds like when it comes to disruptive students in small groups I'm lucky. Staff in general make for very cooperative classes.

It was especially interesting to hear about the way a small group develops from forming (coming otgether, finding out about one another), to storming (questioning what they're doing and why - this can be quite an anarchic process which may involve questioning the methods of the instructor or leader), to norming (the team gets down to the nuts and bolts...what do we need to do and how are we going to get it done). All teams almost without fail pass through these phases and it's ok to do so. My own experience working in a small team leads me to believe we sometimes get caught in a particular phase. It'd be good to know how you get through that!

In particular was interested to know how I could improve the kinds of feedback I get from staff - they tend to be very positive and I wonder if this is partly because they're kind and encouraging. I liked the technique that Helen and David suggested - to use post-its. One post-it: what should we start doing, another: what should we continue doing, the final: what should we stop doing.

popping them on post-its ensures it's fairly anonymous. It ensures you're going to get some constructive criticism.

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