Possible Topics for Reflective Group Meetings

I will continue writing about our Reflective Group Meetings, and this post will share the topics from the previous year, and some ideas for the new school year meetings in an attempt to make a ‘calendar’.

2016-2017: ELC**

Introductory meeting (we discussed the idea of starting the group, ELC as a model for reflection, etc.)

One Student (this blog post describes the meeting)

Motivating Unmotivated (this post gives the idea of the meeting)

Exploring Teacher Beliefs (we looked at some ‘teaching areas’ where beliefs could be challenged or changed with time, wrote out those beliefs, analyzed where they might be coming from, shared and compared, etc.)

How to Break a Routine and Do Something New (we defined ‘routine’ in our lives and in the classroom, looked at some pros and cons of having them, and shared those that could be ‘broken’)

Learning from Failure (we shared our big and small failures and the learning from it; this session was somewhat ‘further’ from the classroom but helped us re-confirm the point of learning and reflecting as a daily practice)

Reflection as a Professional Development Tool (this was the last session in the school year before a summer break, so we looked at possible ways to reflect and talked about our plans for the coming year, including the topics shared below)

**the first five meetings had an explicit focus on the Experiential Learning Cycle: the first meeting was the first overview and a short ‘practice’ time by making Halloween bats (yes, crafts!). We then focused on each stage of the cycle in more detail in the following four meetings: describing one student, analyzing possible reasons for being unmotivated, exploring the roots for the beliefs/generalizations we have about teaching, planning SMART actions on how to break a routine. The final two meetings had a cycle ‘in mind’ and were using it to talk about the topics I mentioned.

 

2017-18: ONE

A New School Year (a draft of the meeting plan is in this post)

This year my idea is to try having a ‘theme’ for the meetings. To highlight the importance of learning from our own experience, I suggested that ‘One’ can be that connecting element. Similarly to the meeting ‘One Student’, each new session will invite the group members to think about and share/reflect on ONE specific moment, experience, interaction in their teaching lives. Some examples are below.

ONE …

  • interaction (with a student, a parent, a colleague, etc.)
  • group (of students you are working with)
  • course book (you have taught, or like, or dislike, etc.)
  • lesson (especially successful, a disaster lesson, an unplanned lesson, etc.)
  • lesson plan (the longest one, the shortest one, the strangest one, etc.)
  • observation (observing or being observed)
  • feedback (giving or receiving)
  • colleague (a critical friend, a buddy, someone who always disagrees, a difficult colleague, etc.)
  • boss
  • mentor
  • workplace
  • way to reflect
  • activity
  • minute (in my lesson this week)
  • piece of advice
  • day

That’s it for now. If you have any thoughts, questions, doubts or suggestions about any of the topics above, let me know in the comments below.

Thank you for reading! 🙂

About Zhenya

teacher educator, evidence-based instruction trainer, PD Coach https://wednesdayseminars.wordpress.com/
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4 Responses to Possible Topics for Reflective Group Meetings

  1. ChristinaC says:

    Hi Zhenya and thank you for sharing this with us all 😊
    I’ve only recently got back to reading – rather than just bookmarking for a ‘later’ that almost never comes – and commenting on posts that strike one or more chords inside.
    This one made me think (you always make that happen, by the way) that working on specific themes throughout a reflective practice group’s cycles of meetings actually provides tangible outcomes.
    Such practice is little known and even less appreciated over here – I mean on a broader scale, it isn’t common practice – yet it feels like this could be the best way towards meaningful and effective development.
    In my attempts and involvement in a reflective practice group over the past couple of years, it was the focus on a specific theme each time that kept us all going – but the key element has been identifying, and then employing, group dynamics.
    Our context is different, I think, as here we take turns in facilitating and each month is moderated by different people implementing based upon their own perspective and practice. Still, we all decide on the theme together, a theme which can work as an ‘umbrella’ to cater for all participants.
    My suggestion when we resume our meetings will be an attempt on reflection-in-action; I feel ready for it and hope my colleagues do too.

    I really like ‘One’ as a starting point and think you have a great list of possible themes! I’d probably add ‘one image’, be it static or moving, canned or authentic (e.g. an original capture from group members), as something visual might prompt extremely motivating and powerful contributions.

    I’m looking forward to reading how things turn out!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Zhenya says:

      Dear Christina

      Thank you very much for stopping by to read and comment! I have had another ‘silent’ period of time on this blog and enjoy getting back to writing – and you writing that this post ‘struck a cord’ is important to me.

      You wrote that ‘working on specific themes throughout a reflective practice group’s cycles of meetings provides tangible outcomes’ and I agree. It certainly helps to imagine the meeting outcome (if not a specific objective) while planning it, and preparing the group for a discussion. We will see how the meetings actually unfold, because (1) there are more topics than we have time for in the coming year and (2) we are also planning to respond to immediate needs of the group members and (3) engage more facilitators (which may also mean bringing more ideas to talk about!)

      I love you idea of focusing more on ‘reflection-in-action’: could you tell me more about this? I see it as a possible discussion/meeting topic but also as a ‘theme’ for another year? Wow.

      And… I did not know you are also taking part in a a reflective practice group! Do you blog about it? I feel soooo out of touch with many things now 🙂 Again, identifying (challenges?) + employing (strategies?) for group dynamics sounds like another excellent theme to reflect in depth!

      Also, thank you for the idea about the additional topic (the Image!): it is on my list now! I love metaphors, too, and an image/visual can be an excellent topic to focus on.

      Thank you very much for helping me learn and reflect (are we using this word too much? 🙂 Will hope to be able to write updates on how the reflective year unfolds!

      Zhenya

      Liked by 1 person

      • ChristinaC says:

        Dear Zhenya
        *totally unaware how a whole week went by before this reply*

        I have to say that I love silent periods 🙂 – I’ve been going through another one of mine too, quite elongated this time and general-not only on my blog, and it’s become obvious why I needed it. The truth of it is that silence has been both a need and a guiding force of mine for years. I’ve again reached a point, though, where sharing is essential.

        Re Tangible Outcomes: it’s become very clear that, unless we focus on one theme and a selection of tasks, it is next to impossible to reach conclusions and plan ahead – where we stand, at least. I have no doubt that you’ll moderate your RP group’s needs effectively, even if topics might be more than what you can actually work on (best to have surplus, in a way).

        Re part of an RP group and blogging about it: Yes! I’ve unwittingly instigated this and I’ve been happily moderating it for some time now – No, apart from personal sharing (tagged #teacherhub on my blogposts), our practice is still only recorded in our journals. I’ll soon publish my personal website and have a dedicated section to #TeacherHub-bers, with participant posts and our workings.

        Re Reflection-In-Action: It seems to me that we need to be “thinking on our feet” more. The idea of reflection-in-action (“reflecting on the incident whilst it can still benefit that situation rather than reflecting on how you would do things differently in the future”- on Schön’s principle) responds well to my inquiry-based way of thinking. Having also experienced what we are called to respond to immediately, whether educational or managerial – enforces this internal need to focus on in-action approaches. I haven’t decided how to suggest it in the RP group yet; will probably prepare a task for us where on-the-spot decisions and modifications are required.

        The Image is powerful! I’m very happy you like it and hope you’ll use it somehow 🙂

        And, No. I don’t think we’re using the word too much. If I hadn’t pursued to critically think about what I’m doing and why, I simply wouldn’t be myself – and that’s a core principle when attempting to teach others, in my view.

        Best of luck with everything, Zhenya – and keep writing!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Zhenya says:

          Dear Christina

          Thank you for the wonderful comments: I see such responses as ‘blog inside a blog’ and value this communication channel very much. That said, apologies for the long silence: have some travel time in Ukraine, and online projects (one of them is intensive, with 15 October deadline). Excuses from writing, I know…

          I would love to read and be in touch with #TeacherHub-bers – looking forward to visiting your new website. I feel inspired by the connection with Anna’s group in Japan and Linda-Marie’s group in CA, USA.

          Re Reflection-In-Action as a ‘theme’ to explore on a meeting: reading your ideas, I already see a possible session format (where everyone, starting with the facilitator, is describing the time when on-the-spot decision and modification was required, and how it was handled, and then sharing and exploring beliefs and challenges for this process (with some solutions, hopefully). Getting more and more excited about actually trying this out. Another proof of how ‘thinking together’ helps and motivates!

          Thank you for this conversation. I am looking for more!

          Zhenya

          Like

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