How do I become a Teacher Support Group Facilitator?
Training to run your own TSG is affordable and convenient, and you can start right away. Training to become a facilitator of a Teacher Support Group is purely experiential. That means you can get started right away (rather than waiting for an intensive, residential summer program) and you can save money (because you don't have to pay for an intensive, residential summer program). Better yet, two people can train together for the same price and help each other run groups. This is an economical, efficient way to train and work.
Because it is experiential, training requires that you (and, if you're lucky, your co-facilitator) organize and run six 10-week Teacher Support Group "series" over a minimum of two years. That's a total of 60 groups. The entire time, you and I consult regularly through weekly Skype sessions and email.
Teacher Support Groups can work well with up to 6 teachers (not including the co-facilitators), but I recommend you start with 2-4 teachers (not including the co-facilitators). The teachers in your TSG can be friends; they can be colleagues you don't know very well; they can come from your school or just your department; they can come from different schools or different departments; they can be invited personally; they can be invited via email (sample emails and TSG descriptions are provided in the training materials -- see below). Whoever they are, once they have committed to the Teacher Support Group, they need to do their level best to get to all 10 meetings in the series.
The 10-week TSG series fall into one of two designs:
- Study - practice
- Straight support
The first Teacher Support Group series in the training is always a study - practice series. This is a nice design because it allows you and the teachers in your group to ease into emotion work. As "study - practice" implies, this series alternates between discussions of my book, The Feeling of Teaching, and practice sessions. Each chapter of The Feeling of Teaching explains and illustrates (in great detail) a particular "frame" teachers can use to make sense of classroom experiences. In the study sessions, teachers familiarize themselves with these frames (with the help of a handy study guide that is provided with the training materials). Practice sessions follow each study session and allow the group members to apply each frame to teachers' stories and experiences. Slow and steady. "Metacogniscience" grounded in concrete reality. A good way to start.
The co-facilitators and I meet weekly for up to 1.5 hours during the study - practice series (via Skype). We meet after each study session and review questions the teachers and co-facilitators are left with. This helps deepen the co-facilitators' understanding of the frames and concepts and gives them answers they can share with the other group members. We also prepare for the coming practice session. The meetings we have after the practice sessions are devoted to reviewing what happened in the practice meetings. A lot of learning happens here as the co-facilitators begin to develop the skills they need to match stories with concepts that reframe the teachers' experiences effectively.
Subsequent TSG series tend to focus on straight support, which means you dispense with the study sessions and just go with the practice sessions. In the support series, you spend the first 20 minutes or so of each 1.25-hour Teacher Support Group "checking in"; the next few minutes voting on the story you're going to focus on; more minutes asking questions of the teacher whose story you're analyzing; some time applying the relevant frame to the story; and, if all goes well, making a plan for future action.
During the straight support groups, you and your co-facilitator play different roles: one person is the lead facilitator; the other person is the scribe. (Don't worry -- the training materials include descriptions, scripts, and forms to help you play both roles well.) Once again, you and I will meet weekly (for up to 1.5 hours) to review each meeting and smooth out kinks. I will also be available via email in between our weekly Skype sessions to answer questions and address problems.
The costs for training are as follows:
Initial study - practice series: $2600 (this cost includes training materials and 6 copies of The Feeling of Teaching)
Subsequent straight support series (second through sixth): $2000 each
Total cost of facilitator training (over a minimum of 2 years): $12600
Total cost of training for each of two facilitators training together (over a minimum of 2 years): $6300
The time commitment during every 10-week series is 2.75 hours of direct contact training per week. That's 1.25 hours for each weekly Teacher Support Group and up to 1.5 hours of weekly work with me. Plus, of course, time spent reading, looking concepts up, emailing me, reflecting and writing, talking to administrators about funding, etc. Keep in mind that you will be applying concepts to your own teaching (and probably other relationships as well), so you will be learning a lot on your own.
The materials I provide include
- sample recruiting emails and blurbs
- confidentiality explanation and consent form
- concise meeting schedule for each type of TSG series
- study guides for every chapter of The Feeling of Teaching
- forms to help facilitators keep track of teacher check-ins
- cheat sheets for framing and guiding discussions
- clear descriptions and sample scripts guiding co-facilitator roles
- reflection guides
- ideas for ending TSG series
The next step, if you are interested in training, is to contact me so we can set up a time to meet via Skype. At that meeting I can answer questions, hear about your particular situation, and get to know you a little (and you me). No obligation. Just contact. Running a TSG is extremely valuable, relieving, and helpful. And it's not necessarily intuitive. So good, supportive, solid training is important. You need to get a sense of what it will be like to train with me.
I look forward to hearing from you!