disConferencing, a five-and-a-third-hour model: Session 4 & Closing

Break, 10 minutes

Organizers recreate the inner circle of 12 chairs with gaps for easy entry and exit of sitters, but otherwise as close as possible.  Organizers ask for help to move the rest of the chairs surrounding that circle.  Seats in the circle are then occupied by organizers (except the Session 4 Coordinator), the guest author, and volunteers if any seats remain.  Pens are distributed to any participant who doesn’t have one.

Hour 4.10-5.10

Session 4, Dialogue Hour (http://bit.ly/FivePhase, with modification for large group, http://wp.me/p1gwfa-kL)

Respect, Risk, and Revelation are emphasized in the listening—not only to others but also to oneself (even if silently)—that happens in a Dialogue Process.  By the end of the Dialogue Hour and Closing Circle, participants should be clear about at least some issues that have (Re)engaged you through the experience of the dis/Conference.

Session 4 Coordinator explains that the topic of the Dialogue Hour is “Review the dis/Conference insights and experience and think about how each of us can extend the insights and experience.”  The Hour involves 5 phases, as described on page 2 of the handout.  Asks everyone to read the instructions for the first, freewriting phase and then start.  Anyone needing more explanation should quietly attract the Coordinator’s attention.

1.     5 minutes Freewriting to begin to consider the topic of the session.

2.     Check-in: Short account to a neighbor of one’s concern or question about the topic of the session.

3.     Dialogue process, i.e., listening with structured turn taking, that begins with each of the inner circle saying one thing that is on top for them as the dialogue starts.  Then, through inquiry more than advocacy (or rehearsal of previously formulated ideas), including inquiry of one’s own thinking, themes usually emerge.  So that what participants say builds on what has been said by previous speakers (as against rehearsing a position established well before the session). The session 4 Coordinator circulates, giving a card to anyone (including those in the inner circle of 12) who raises their finger (as in an auction) to indicate that they would like a turn.  When the turn comes up for a person out of the circle, a member of the inner circle who does not have a card gracefully relinquishes their seat to that person, who can remain in the circle after speaking until asked to relinquish their seat.

4.     10 minutes before the session ends each participant spends a few minutes writing to gather and share thoughts that have emerged as they are meaningful for them. Session 4 Coordinator explains that it’ll reduce work if people can use their smartphones to gather thoughts.

5.     Last 5 minutes: In groups of 3-4, each participant shares something they plan to address/get done/think more about based on the session.  (Having this aired in the group–having it witnessed–makes it more likely to happen.)

(Page 2 of handout has instructions for Sessions 2-4, including guidelines for dialogue and prompts or web address for gathering thoughts in phase 4 of Session 4.  Page 2 also states the Learning and Experiential goals at the bottom.)

Hour 5.10-5.20

Closing Circle

Each participant has up to 15 seconds to state one highlight or appreciation or suggestion or thing they are taking away from the dis/Conference to do more work with.  One person starts then passes the (figurative or literal) mic to a neighbor.

Follow up by organizers

  1. Get help to tidy up the space.
  2. Send out initial listserv email with guidelines, instructions about unsubscribing, encouragement to share.
  3. Transcribe the PostIts from Session 1 (commonalities and tensions); post to listserv.
  4. Transcribe & collate gathered thoughts from Session 4, phase 4; post to listserv.
  5. Transcribe audio-recording of closing; post to listserv.

About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor teaches and directs programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He studies the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context as well as innovation in teaching, group process, and interdisciplinary collaboration (see bit.ly/pjtaylor). He is especially interested in conversations with others who are, in diverse ways, "troubled by heterogeneity" (bit.ly/tbhblog)

One Response to disConferencing, a five-and-a-third-hour model: Session 4 & Closing

  1. Pingback: disConferencing, a five-and-a-third-hour model: Session 3 « Probe—Create Change—Reflect

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