Teaching through Emotions

where emotions and relationships are central to teaching and learning

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.

 

5 Comments

  1. Candaice McMichael

    July 22, 2016 at 6:39 am

    What are you offering for teacher support group formation?

    • Betsy

      July 22, 2016 at 8:41 am

      I offer materials that will help teachers organize and run their own support groups. Most importantly, I offer the teachers who facilitate those groups supervision (that is, ongoing training and support) so they can become good at the work. An important resource is my book, The Feeling of Teaching, which you can purchase here.

  2. I am interested in learning more about starting a teacher support group. What is the cost?

  3. Rebecca Churchman

    May 24, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    I am interested in organizing a teacher support group.

    • Betsy

      May 25, 2017 at 8:21 am

      Hi, Rebecca. Thanks for your inquiry. I am currently writing a DIY (Do It Yourself) Teacher Support Group manual that should be ready for distribution by the end of July (2017). It will be available on this website, so check back! In the meantime, you should buy my book. It is essential for providing the frames teachers use to unpack their difficult classroom experiences, which is the crux of Teacher Support Groups. That’s the place to start.

      Please let me know if you have any questions at this point. Good luck!

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