When groups of learners come together to collaborate, the honeymoon is usually pretty sweet–and oftentimes, short lived. When I first began facilitating group learning experiences, I sometimes found myself thrown off-guard by shifting group dynamics and the uncomfortable challenges that these changes entailed. I learned that it was all pretty normal and healthy though. Whether we’re inviting students into cooperative learning groups, facilitating learning communities, or working with others in collegial inquiry groups, as people come to know one another, define their collective vision, and assume roles within the group, different issues begin to present themselves.
Bruce Tuckman’s well-known model of group development validates the notion that when problems arise, it doesn’t necessarily mean that something is going wrong–what it does indicate is that groups are evolving, and this is a good thing. Real growth is never painless though, and teachers and coaches must plan proactively around this. Developing strategies to meet groups where they are at and support them through each phase of their work is essential. Considering how to best respond when bad norming occurs is necessary as well. Below you will find strategies brainstormed by different groups I’ve worked with in recent years.
I know that others out there rely upon the work of different thinkers and different models of group development as well. Whose work would you recommend?