Discussion Groups and Feedback Sessions – PD in Focus 2

You can have meetings over coffee (photo by Chiew Pang, from http://www.flickr.com/photos/eltpics/)
You can have meetings over coffee (photo by
Chiew Pang, from http://www.flickr.com/photos/eltpics/)

Teaching can be a lonely profession. You teach, come back home, mark, prepare – but you need and would like to get together with colleagues or teacher friends to reflect with. What do you do? A good idea is to set up a discussion group. Get colleagues from work or friends of yours who are teachers and set up a group. I even do this with only one friend of mine.  Of course, a larger group might be better, as you hear and share more opinions and experiences.

Get together with other teachers from work or friends. Find people you enjoy communicating with and encourage others to join you as well. Choose an environment that inspires you – the home of a colleague, a quaint and quiet cafe, an especially designated room in a library (we have one like that here at the library, where you don’t even have to whisper!).

Choose a topic. It can be a common topic, or each one of you can have a different one to talk about – a class that you are having issues with, a colleague that has dried up and needs more ideas, new lesson plans you have used and would like to share. A topic I recently discussed with a wonderful friend who is also a great educator was culture in the classroom – how we can encourage students to respect each others’ culture and create an environment that celebrates diversity (as we were both having some issues with instances of racist remarks in our classes).

Discuss and find ways to implement what you have learned. Give suggestions to each other on how you plan to apply everything you have taken in the sessions – and come back again another day to reflect on how it went. It feels much better to do things when you know you have company – it is interesting to see how different approaches work.

Take notes / Make a newsletter! I know this needs time, but it is always useful to take notes in these sessions, which everyone can keep and revisit. It can even be in the form of a newsletter! You can make free newsletters you can send as regularly as you like to the whole group at http://tinyletter.com/, for an easy, colourful format or interactive ones at http://www.smilebox.com/newsletter-designs.html

Do you get together with other educators in discussion groups? If you have any different ideas or experiences, share them here with us.

17 thoughts on “Discussion Groups and Feedback Sessions – PD in Focus 2

  1. Dear Vicky,
    I can consider myself extremely lucky as we have a very supportive working environment at school. I have wonderful fellow teachers and there’s a lot of sharing going on all the time! On one hand, it is enhanced by the fact that there’s no competition in our institution. Teachers do not see one another as rivals but as friends who face same students and often same problems. As I can feel the support and encouragement from the others rather than judgment, I am not afraid to say when things are not going the way I would love them to. I know schools where the ambience in teachers’ room is far from being positive and this is where people isolate themselves from others in fear of coming over us weak or not good enough.

    On the other hand, getting support from the others is very much connected to our own initiative. We should not shy away from asking for help and advice. I started doing it the day I began working in my current school and never looked back!

    Have a great Sunday workshop!

    1. Hi Sirja!

      What beautiful images you have shared from your school – it is the nicest, most pleasant environment that fosters great feelings and creativity among the teachers. That is then passed on to the students as well, I am sure, who feel great to be in such a learning environment.

      I love your sentence: “We should not shy away from asking for help and advice.”

      Thanks so much,

  2. Dear Vicky,

    Hello from Sofia, Bulgaria!

    Your idea to encourage teachers & students’ cooperation and support is great!

    I’ve just started an international project on diversity, tolerance, prejudice, etc. The name of our project might be UNITED IN DIVERSITY, but we haven’t decided yet.
    I’ m new to this kind of projects, and would be happy if you could help us with some ideas.

    In our school we have a mixture of nationalities and different background of students. There are about 1350 students (aged between 6 and 18) and 80 teachers. Most of students are Bulgarian but there are a lot of students from Vietnam and a small number from Algeria, Syria, Yemen and some other countries.

    Interests (as far as this project is concerned): The multicultural aspect of our school and the presence of some disatvantaged groups make me think we are not exactly living in a valley of tolerance and love. So, my personal goals might be:
    – how to create a diverse, multicultural, and inclusive class environment
    – how to teach about prejudice
    – how to handle students who behave in a discriminatory way
    – to help students understand their own prejudices
    – to help students learn ways to reduce prejudice…

    Looking forward to hearing from you,
    Kind Regards,

  3. Dear Vicky,
    a big hello from Italy and thank you for your interesting and useful blog!
    I’ve been teaching here in Italy for 26 years, yes, it’s a long time but never long enough to sometimes still feel the need to reach out for a helping hand from colleagues.
    I have to also say that I am very lucky to have teachers asking me for advice and guidance and it is a truly wonderful exchange!
    Mentoring also helps me in my Life-long-learning path by forcing me to reflect and
    think a lot about my own teaching.
    I love helping other teachers and watching them grow and the appreciation they show is really rewarding!
    Keep up the great work you’re doing!
    Bye for now,
    Elizabeth 🙂

  4. Many people don’t think of teaching as lonely when you’re surrounded by kids all day, but it can really burn you out. This is a great idea to get teachers together and swap idea or stories and grow a little from the experience. I know of many teachers that I have been around who would benefit from a good environment like this.

    1. Hi Chris!

      Thanks for your comment – it can be lonely – when you are alone planning, or commuting, or at home correcting…but I love your ideas abput how to avoid burnout!

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