Today’s post is from the great people at http://www.thinkingcollaborative.com/norms-collaboration-toolkit/. This is a framework to use as “norms” in your Sunday Morning Youth Class or with your team members in a staff meeting. You will also find these principles useful in a one on one meeting with a parent or parishioner. I am using their seven key points and combining them with my personal thoughts. Enjoy!
When my daughter Rose gets frustrated I tell her to count to three and breath. I think we would all be more productive as leaders if we would take that same advice. Pausing before responding or asking a question allows time for thinking and enhances dialogue, discussion, and decision-making.
When you are facilitating a class with students it is often necessary to paraphrase or restate the question or statement that a student has made to make it clear for everyone in the room. I try to bring a response down to it’s simplest form. However, we must never do this in a way that embarrasses a participant. You are simply clarifying their response for the group.
3. POSE QUESTIONS
My wife has often said, “the person talking is the person who is learning the most.” By asking your class questions about the material you are covering allows them to think about what they already know and to explore into new material. Inquire into others’ ideas before advocating one’s own.
4. PUT IDEAS ON THE TABLE
Try making your class an exploration of ideas instead of a dictation of pre-rehearsed material. Try phrases such as: “Here is one idea…” or “One thought I have is…” or “Here is a possible approach…” or “Another consideration might be…”.
5. PROVIDE DATA
We must allow a space in every lesson or meeting for others to explore questions and ideas, however, you must never let them leave without giving your participants something they can live by. You must use data in every lesson or session. In the church setting our “data” is God’s Word. You should provide both qualitative (Story Form) and quantitative (Chapter and Verse). Shared meaning develops from collaboratively exploring, analyzing, and interpreting data.
6. PAY ATTENTION TO SELF AND OTHERS
Meaningful dialogue and discussion are facilitated when each group member is conscious of self and of others, and is aware of what (s)he is saying and how it is said as well as how others are responding. This includes paying attention to learning styles when planning, facilitating, and participating in group meetings and conversations.
7. PRESUME POSITIVE INTENTIONS
Assuming that everyone is in your class to learn will take the pressure off of your teaching. Create a climate where you are excited to be there and you expect them to be happy to be there. When someone asks you a question, don’t be defensive, rather assume they are truly attempting to understand what you are saying.
Adapted from: Garmston, R., and Wellman, B. (2009) The Adaptive School: A Sourcebook for Developing Collaborative Groups, 2nd edition. Norwood, MA: Christopher Gordon.