ThinkTank, a day-and-half model

I recently attended a “thinktank” that went from evening of one day to lunchtime a day and a half later. After looking back at what happened (and didn’t), I prepared this blog post to suggest a way that participants’ interests and energies could be engaged over the day and a half of a ThinkTank on topic X. (It is not important for this exercise to identify what the topic was of the ThinkTank I attended.) The instructions are given for arrangements with the additional goal of making it possible to host such ThinkTanks without major funding and without burning out the organizers. Read more of this post

Alternating between teacher and facilitator

Workshop at the meetings of the International Association of Facilitators, Toronto, Canada, April 27 – 30, 2000

Participation in a group process or workshop is easily stifled when participants perceive a facilitator to prefer some ideas and outcomes over others. When insights emerge from the participants themselves, they become more invested in the process and the outcomes. But what should teachers who use facilitation techniques some of the time in their classes do to be perceived as facilitating not directing the class. Conversely, what should facilitators of any kind of group do when they see that a crucial insight is not emerging? Read more of this post

Group meetings that are reflective and generative

Meetings in person or by conference call, as short as 30 minutes or as long as an hour, can make space for reflection and be generative of new work, even without a conventional agenda.  The format to follow evolved first in a weekly writing support group, was adapted for monthly conference call meetings to continue interactions initiated in an annual workshop, and continue to be refined with a weekly group of students writing their final Masters papers.

1. Freewriting to: a. get present (clearing away distracting concerns form our busy lives), and b. begin to consider the topic of the day (if there is one, e.g., in the Masters course).

2. Check-in: Short account of news or progress in writing since previous meeting + concern or question about the topic of the day (again, if there is one).  (No responses during the check-in.  Instead, write down any thoughts you have or tips of topics for one-on-one conversations.)

3. Dialogue process, i.e., listening with structured turn taking, that builds on the check-in.  Through inquiry more than advocacy (or rehearsal of previously formulated ideas), including inquiry of one’s own thinking, themes usually emerge.

4.  A few minutes writing to gather thoughts that have emerged as they are meaningful for you.

5.  Closing go-around:  Something you plan to address/get done/think more about before we meet next.  (Having this aired in the group–having it witnessed–makes it more likely to happen.)

Feel free to adopt or adapt this, and to report back on variants that work for your group.

Intersecting processes combined with Historical scan to generate enactable, group-specific praxis

This post describes an activity that addresses the shortcomings and potentialities of i. Intersecting process accounts, ii. Mapping by researchers of “connections” that motivated, facilitated, or constrained their inquiry and action; and iii. Historical Scan to set the scene in which a project is to be undertaken. Read more of this post

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