Here is a design for a session at a conference (100 people) of Head Teachers, Governors, Governor Trainers and HM Inspectors of Schools. You can adapt this to fit other settings.
1) Introduce myself briefly. Introduce the event, explain the objectives, structure and guidelines. Explain it is an opportunity to listen, share ideas and feelings and think things through. There will be no evaluation, be as open as you can, make sure you listen to everyone.
2) In ‘like’ groups, for example, Head Teachers, Governors, Governor Trainers take equal time for each to talk about.
- What is good about being an X?
- What is difficult about being an X? How does that feel?
- What could you do to overcome the difficulties?
- What could others, in particular those represented at the conference, do to help?
3) We re-formed the original syndicate groups. These contained members of all the groups at the conference. In the syndicates have the whole group listen to each subgroup, (Head Teachers, Governors etc.) also talk about their learning from the previous session and, in particular, how the other groups could help them.
4) List the things that you could do in future that would help to improve the way your system works and foster good relationships. Pick out the best idea and one thing you have learned today.
5) In Plenary. Ask each group to share one thing they have learned so far and their best practical idea. Listen hard to the answers avoid criticising.
Quotes from participants.
“Those were the best and most open discussions I have ever had in the profession”
“We had much more common ground than I suspected”
If you are interested in the some principles behind the design of learning events and two worked examples, including the session above, click here to get to an article on my website. There is also a piece with some more ideas on team work between teams.
A thought and a question.
I would love to see some of these very simple methods applied more widely to build some more bridges and stop stereotyping in this country and the world. Do you have any ideas about how we could do more of this? None of this stuff is technically difficult. It is emotionally and spiritually challenging but it is possible.