Fears and Hopes Activity
Purpose: To surface expectations and concerns—help participants to see that their fears and hopes are shared by others and that they are out in the open and will be addressed.
Time allotted: 30 minutes.
Group format: Large group
Supplies: Individual writing materials, newsprint and markers
Handouts or readings:
Facilitation tips: Be sure that all fears and hopes are written down, as expressed, without comment or any sense of judgement, except perhaps, “That’s interesting.” Do not be fearful of having folks express their worst fears, it always makes things go better once expressed. Plus, we want to know what to not do! This activity segues very well into norm-settings (see below).
The Activity (include time allotted to each segment):
1. Ask participant to write down briefly for themselves their greatest fear for this meeting: “If it’s the worst experience you’ve had, what will have happened (or not happened)?” And then, write your greatest hope, i.e., ”If this is the best meeting you’ve ever attended, what will be the outcome(s) that will have taken place by the end? (3-4 minutes)
2. If time, ask participants to share their hopes and fears with a partner. (3minutes)
3. Have two newsprint sheets—one labeled “fears” and one “hopes”, and list everything that folks call out. Ask that they avoid repeats.
4. This activity transitions very well into norm-setting: In order to reach our hoped –for outcomes, what norms we need? (see activity)
Reflections questions following the activity:
1. Did you notice anything surprising/interesting while doing this activity?
2. What is the impact of expressing negative thoughts?
3. Why did we ask you to do this activity? What might it accomplish?
4. Would you use this activity in your school? In your classroom?
Purpose: To set up mutually agreed-upon guidelines, and also to give permissions for certain behaviors e.g. taking risks, having our voice heard, ect. Setting norms is an essential step and should never be skipped, no matter how unnecessary it may feel, nor how little time there is.
Time allotted: Can be done in anything from 5 - 15 minutes.
Group format: Whatever the size of the group, which is beginning to work together. If norms have been done in a large group, a smaller work group should still ask what are our specific norms?
Handout or readings:
Facilitation tips: Do not succumb to any sense from the group that this is not necessary. Just cheerfully say, “We’ll do this and then we’ll re-visit it regularly.” Emphasize that the list of norms generated is a working list and can be added to our changed whenever. Also, the norms should be revisited regularly to ask, “ How are we doing?”
The Activity: (include time allotted to each segment):
If expectations have been discussed (as in the Hopes and Fears activity) then there is a natural segues—“In order to meet our expectations, what norms would be important for us to list?” If not, you would want to say there are certain norms which we probably can brainstorm together that will make our work together go better. These norms are for all of us, including the facilitator, and we are all responsible for seeing that they are maintained. It can be helpful to have a few norms ready to prime the pump:
Be truly respectful of all.
Encourage risk-taking—say, “I’m going out on a skinny branch.”
Speak up is something hurtful is said, “Ouch.”
Mind your own airtime.
After the list is generated say, “This is a brainstormed list and that does not mean that we’ve all agreed to everything. So at this time, is there something you think won’t work for you or something you think is extraneous?” Then, repeat that this is not fixed in stone and say,” We’ll come back to it time and again.” And then do so.
Reflections questions following the activity:
You might want to save reflections until the norms have been in use e.g. later on ask,
1. How have our norms been working?
2. Would things have gone the same way without norms?
3. How and when might you use this activity?
4. What would you do differently?
North, South, East, and West
An Exercise in Understanding Preferences in Group Work
Similar to the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory, this exercise uses a set of preferences which relate to individual but to group behaviors, helping us to understand how preference affect our group work.
1. The room is set up with four sign on each wall- North, South, East and West.
2. Participants are invited to go to the “direction” of their choice. No one is only one “direction,” but everyone can choose one as their pre-dominant one.
3. Each “direction” answers the four questions on a sheet of newsprint. When complete, they report back to the whole group.
4. Processing can include:
--Note the distribution among the “directions” –What might it mean?
--What is the best combination for a group to have? Does it matter?
--How can you avoid being driven crazy by another “direction”?
--How might you use this exercise with others? Students?
Acting—“Let’s do it”
Likes to act, try things, plunge in.
Paying attention to detail- Speculating-Likes to look at
Likes to know the who, what, the big picture, the possibilities,
when, where and why before acting. before acting.
know that everyone’s
feelings have been taken into
consideration, that their voices
have been heard before acting.
1. What are the strengths of our style? (four adjectives)
2. What are the limitations of your style? (four adjectives)
3. What style do you find most difficult to work with and why?
4. Tell the other “directions” what they need to know about you so that you can work together effectively.
· Enlargement of understanding, not the achievement of some particular understanding
· A collective “minding”, but not a collective understanding.
· Focus on the text, not related opinions or experience
· Active listening. Building on what’s just been said
· No stepping on another’s talk.
· No hand raising. No waiting turns to say something.
· Lots of references to the text. Lots of challenges to go to the text.
· An emphasis on clarification, amplification and implication.
· No “going through” the leaders. Lots of direct conversation and indication
· Socratic Seminars: Facilitation
--- you need an excellent reading, which you and the participants have had time to read thoroughly beforehand; you will re-read prior to discussion
--- questions are genuine questions, one to which you do not have the answers
--- answers are logical, not intuitive
---LISTEN very carefully ( you can do this because you are not thinking of your next question)
--- evidence comes from text but you also bring in personal reasons for understanding (be careful not to ask for citations only when YOU disagree)
--- no one is more of an expert that anyone else
--- facility does not bring outside knowledge in
--- make connections whenever possible among people’s contributions
---don’t have hand raised or make “lists”
--- rules are inferentially learned
--- always be honest—no devil’s advocate
---always be non-judgmental and maximize involvement
I. Re-read text together before beginning; spend a few minutes in small groups
--- Help each other understand.
II. Opening Question
---Must be engaging and connect the text to your life.
--- Stay out of it; conduct the orchestra without using your hands.
--- Go around, list emerging issues and/or list “observations” and “questions”.
Challenging authority in classroom; constructing knowledge together
Learning is synergistic—making meaning together
Teaching pro-social behavior, “Thank you for letting him think a while.”
”Let’s listen…” ”What would you say about that?”
If students sense that we are leading the somewhere, THE GAME IS OVER!
We have to be PURE OF HEART when we ask questions!
This is a means for analyzing different aspect of a problem or issue using a progression of questions or statements. The questions or statements address different facets of the issue or different levels of critical thinking that build on each other. Ideally, people go beyond familiar
or predictable responses.
This format alternates specific questions with small group discussion. Group members get numbers so that they can take turns representing portions of the discussion to other groups;
but, not knowing exactly when their number will be called, they need to stay alert to the issues.
Form small groups (5 people).
n Each person get a number: 1 – 5
n The group is given a problem (via a series of statements) to discuss or reach consensus, approximately 5 minutes per statement or question.
n Chart all answers or take notes.
Standards (for use with administrators groups or district instructional teams)
1. What does Year of the Standards really mean to us?
2. What is the hardest for schools about standards?
3. What is hardest for us about standards?
4. What do they (schools, teachers) need form us?
5. How could we be proactive in helping them?
(adapted from Joe McDonald and David Allen)
The Tuning Protocol (as in “fine tune”) is a useful tool for allowing a variety of voices and perspective to be shared, while focusing intently on a specific presentation. The time frame may vary, but generally adhering to strict time for each segment is advised. We will use the following:
Introduction: Facilitator briefly introduces protocol goals, norms and agenda.
Presentation: ( minutes)
In this segment, the presentation is made. This includes the Context for Student Work (describing exhibition vision, coaching, scoring, rubric, etc.) and Samples of Student work (photocopies of written work and/or video clips). There are no questions entertained at this time.
Members of the “audience” have an opportunity to ask “clarifying” questions – to get pieces of information that may have been omitted in the presentation and they feel would help them to understand the context of the presentation. The facilitator should be sure to limit the question to those that are “clarifying”.
Pause to Reflect on Warm and Cool Feedback: (2-3 minutes)
Participants may choose to write down feedback items that they would like to share- generally no more than one example of each.
Warm Feedback: ( minutes)
Members of audience reinforce, call attention to aspects that they think are especially strong, recognize the acknowledgment of problems and issues by the presenters, ask for more detail on something they think is important. This is not about saying - “good presentation”. It is about being descriptive and helping their presenter see value they might not have seen, themselves, in their presentation.
Presenters take notes and do not respond.
Cool Feedback: not cruel feedback- ( minutes)
This is an opportunity to pose questions that make you wonder, want to know more about, confuse you. You may also share concerns, raise issues or other ideas that you think are worth exploring, etc.
Presenters take notes and do not respond yet.
Response and open conversation: ( minutes)
This is opportunity for the presenters to respond to the questions and comments. During this segment the audience is quiet. Remaining time is reserved for additional questions, comments and open conversation.
Feedback on process: ( minutes)
The full group provides feedback on process.
Descriptive Consultancy Protocol
Purpose: The purpose of this protocol is to help someone think something through, solve a problem, and get advice. Paradoxically, it recognizes that the best advice is the least advice and that helping to define and set the problem is what is truly helpful in reaching resolution. It recognizes that when we are quick to give advice it is not very respectful of the person presenting the problem who probably has though of the obvious questions already. It asks us to practice being more descriptive and less judgmental. It also asks us to focus on the person who is consulting with us and not talking about our experiences and ourselves.
Time: Approximately 40 minutes (time can be adjusted)
1. Problem is described. (5–7 minutes)
2. Clarifying the questions can be asked only if they are truly for information purposes and are for the benefit of the asker. (2 –3 minutes)
3. The presenter is silent while the rest describe what they are hearing and try to develop a shared understanding of the problem and its complexity. (10 minutes)
-What did you hear?
-What didn’t you hear that you needed to know more about?
-What can be built on/what is missing?”
4. The presenter responds and acknowledges or further clarifies the problem description. (4 minutes)
5. The presenter is again silent while the group brainstorms possible solutions/next steps. (5 minutes)
6. The presenter responds again. (5 minutes)
7. Debrief. (7 minutes)
Small Group Consultancies
Time: 25 – 40 minutes per presenter
Size of Group: Any number of groups of three
Ground rules: Time is strictly kept, participants are to focus on the presenter’s problem, not give examples of their own, the goal is to understand the problem thoroughly not give immediate (simple) solutions. It is helpful to start with, “What I hear being said…” instead of “ What I think she should do…”
1. Presenter gives quick overview of the issue/problem they are working on. (7 –10 minutes) Participants do not speak.
2. Presenter listens and does not speak while participants discuss what they have heard. The goal is to learn more about the thinking and issue which as been presented. What do you hear? What didn’t you hear that you needed to know more about? What do you think about the issue? The conversation should include:
WARM feedback- what we appreciated about what we heard
COOL feedback- what are the gaps, what do we thing should happen next (7-10 minutes)
3. Presenter responds while participants listen. What did listening to your conversation help me to think about? Presenter can open this up to the group when desired. (7-10 minutes)
4. Reflections—The group discusses how this went—the presenter first, then the participants.
Forming: The orientation stage-- guarded, monitored behavior; reluctance to trust resulting in not behaving g like a group. Everyone is overly nice. There are personal agendas but no group agenda. Principles have not been identified.
Community/Culture Builder- The leader connect the context of the group with the work to be done and the member of the group with each other through visioning and communicating.
· Team Building
· Consensus Building
· Creative Problem-Solving
· Structures with work
Storming: The conflict stage--natural and necessary disagreements due to difference in people; while it can destroy it can also develop unity and foster interdependence; need to learn to live with ambiguity. Everyone could be nicer.
The leader mediates both interpersonal and intellectual disagreements, aiming for synthesis and balance of conflicting needs. The leader works to have all voices heard without judgement.
· Mediation and negotiation
· Valuing and using diversity of group
· Valuing and using conflict as means of learning.
· Learning to value messiness.
· Non-avoidance; surfacing conflicts.
Norming: The cohesion stage-- working to develop shared values and expectation while respecting individual differences and needs—leading to stability and intensity. Giving and getting appropriate feedback is done constructively.
The leader forms groups leading meetings and conducting professional development activities for entire school community. Teaches protocols which allow for effective feedback and standard-setting.
· Designing the Professional Development
· Running effective meetings
· Including all voices
· Systems thinking
· Various problem-solving approaches
· Focus shifts from decision-making to learn
Performance stage—groups are productive and focus on work to be done while striving to maintain interpersonal relationships in group—even when these seem to be at odds with each other.
The leader keeps the group’s eyes on the task and focuses attention on the personal relationships as well, assuring that voices are heard and continuing to diagnose and design accordingly in a regular cycle of improvement.
· Keeping the Planning/Implementing/ Reflecting Cycle going
· Encouraging others’ leadership and maintaining standards of excellence.
Three Big Facilitators’ Fears
We ALL know these!
1. Fear of silence. What if no one says anything? That silence must have been at least five- minutes long. I’d better re-word my question Or better yet ask another question. There’s nothing worse that having a roomful off people staring at you with nothing being said.
Reality. Good teaching always requires good wait-time. Practicing “unanxious expectations” will help you to look (and feel) calm while waiting the seemingly unending time it can take for people to respond. If you question is a good one it should require some thought and you don’t want instantaneous, simple-minded answers. If you can, try to get in touch with how long the wait actually is. You might be surprised.
2. Fear of eye-rolling. (thanks to Arnie Goldstein.) What if I suggest an activity and no one wants to do it. What if they think I’m being silly/foolish /touchy-feely/dumb? Isn’t it better if they’re a little bored, rather than chancing their disdain? I feel nervous enough about doing this work, the last thing I need is giggling or refusal to participate
Reality. If you can deliver the message (again) calmly and with assurance; “We are going to do an activity which I hope will prove to be useful and which I think is worth our while,” folks will inevitable go along with it. They are as eager as you to have a good learning experience. But be sure you are being clear that this activity has a good purpose and is definitely not a waste of time. If you believe in what you are doing, they will go along with you.
3. FEAR of the Disruptive Group Member. I know my group and I know exactly who is going to be a
big-mouth and argue with what we are doing. They might even try to get other to feel negatively and make a scene. Or thy might walk out, or they might try to engage me in some back—and –forth about why we are doing this. In any case, I will lose control and it will not be pretty.
Reality. The best way to offset potential disrupter is to do you planning well and ALWAYS: gather the expectations of the group members, go over norms and over the agenda. Then, and this is IMPORTANT-- no matter what arguments or negatives thoughts are expressed, look interested, caring and concerned….but do not feel you have to answer/solve the problem. Just say: That’s interesting (etc.) and now we will move on. Do not engage in trying to satisfy everyone. Do what you would do in the classroom—say, “Let’s talk about this later and /or let’s put this on a future agenda.
Ground Rules for Brainstorming*
1. Every Contribution is Worthwhile.
¨ Even weird, way-out ideas
¨ Even confusing ideas
¨ Especially silly ideas
2. Suspend Judgement
¨ We won’t evaluate each other’s ideas
¨ We won’t censor our own ideas
¨ We’ll save these ideas for a later discussion
3. We can modify this process before it starts or
after it ends, but not while it’s underway.
*The inventor of brainstorming as a technique for stimulating creativity was Alex Osborn. His classic
Applied Imagination, New York: Charles Scribner and Sons, 1953, has spawned more than one hundred
variations of brainstorming.
Source: Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making, page 100
(thanks to Marvin from Indiana University)
Purpose: To facilitate rapid communication among largish groups of people;
to get many points of view heard without engaging in dialogue.
Procedure: Form group of 5-7. Be prepared with a variety of questions to choose among.
When I ask a question, each member of the group will answer, in turn; each member gets approximately 30 seconds; when one person speaks the others listen and do not respond verbally.
When time is called, another question is posed.
Do for about 4-5 rounds.
You will be able to get a sense of what is happening in the groups even though they are not sharing with the entire group. You can then choose the order of questions as your judgement tells you.
Uses: For the first day of a class, questions about the subject/topic which help members to see where others are on that topic, e.g. My real feelings about mathematics are…How I react when I hear the name Shakespeare…My hopes for this class are….
For groups in general, the same kinds of prompts work: What I dread when I am in a small group…One skill I hope to leave this group with...etc,.
Facilitator Tips for Brainstorming
DO’S DO NOT’S
Do a lot of mirroring to keep things moving
at a fast clip. Do not interrupt.
Do encourage people to take turns. Do not say, “We’ve already got that one.”
Do treat silly ideas as the same as serious ideas. Do not say, “Ooh, good one!”
Do move around to create a lively feeling. Do not say, “Hey, you don’t really want me to
write that one, do you?”
Do say, ”let’s see if I’ve got it right so far” if
a person is difficult to follow. Do not favor the “best” thinkers.
Do repeat the purpose often: Who else can Do not use frowns, raised eyebrows or other
explain why our office systems are inefficient? nonverbal gestures that signal disapproval.
Do start a new flipchart page before the previous Do not give up the first time a group seems
one is full. stuck.
Do give a warning that the end is approaching Do not simultaneously be the leader, the
facilitator and the chart writer.
Do expect a second wind of creative ideas after
the obvious ones are exhausted. Do not start the process without clearly
setting the time limit.
Do not rush or pressure the group. Silence
usually means that people are thinking.