How can I form a Teacher Support Group?
Here are the necessary ingredients for a Teacher Support Group:
- interested teachers (2-4 is good to start)
- 1-2 trained facilitators
- a private, quiet room in which to meet weekly
- a 10-week commitment (minimum)
Getting a trained facilitator is the trickiest part of forming a Teacher Support Group. Having a facilitator is necessary because a Teacher Support Group is the place where teachers get to relax (or be especially tense), act out, even fall apart. It is the place where teachers get to grow and learn and develop. So, just as the classroom needs a trained teacher to hold the students together, so a Teacher Support Group needs a trained facilitator to hold the teachers together.
Facilitators of Teacher Support Groups need several specific qualities. They need to understand what it’s like to teach, including the pressures of classroom management, lesson design, curricular coverage, and standardized testing. And they need to be able to think psychodynamically, which means
- they need to be able to see how people fit together emotionally and relationally
- they need to be comfortable with not knowing, being non-judgmental, and being used
- they need to be adept at applying and explaining the concepts discussed in my book The Feeling of Teaching, and
- they need to be confident running a small group that can get intense
In my experience, it’s a rare person who automatically possesses all of these qualities. That’s why training is important.
Training is what I do. Ideally, I work with two teachers from the same school or district who train together so they can alternate running their Teacher Support Group (one person facilitates one week, the other benefits from the support — then they switch). Two trainees are ideal, but I can train one at a time as well.
There’s a lot to say about training. If you’re interested in learning more, click here and I’ll give you the details.