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This summer I took an online class through a state university. For one of our final assignments we have a group project with five people who were taking different courses through the program. In short, we were five strangers who never meet in person and had to complete our project online. We "meet" first on line in Teleplace (a chat room platform where you can hear each other and see an avatar that represents them.) We planned our project and then created a Google document so each group member could add their thoughts and work as needed. Two weeks later we again met on Teleplace to finish our project and create our presentation (a Google site website.) It was difficult working with people we didn't know and knew we would never meet; however, with tools like Google, we were able to add and formulate our specific portions of the project and create a strong final presentation.
When I first became a substitute teacher, I went through a week-long training session with 150 other established teachers, administrators, instructors, and trainees (me). The first day we formed (forming) into our various groups according to which campus we had been hired for (there were four) so we could go to the proper classes. And, depending upon what grade level we were teaching, we signed up for certain core curriculum classes. Then we divided into the classes and began rigorous training in those areas (storming). We were taught the curriculum and then had a chance to role play to test our skills. This gave us a taste of what we would be doing (norming). At first it was very hard, but we got better and better all week. By the end of the week we had a pretty good idea of what we were doing (performing). I might add that there were several "drop-outs" who decided this particular way of teaching was not for them. Those of us who were left and were coming back the next year were pretty much prepared to go on (ending). Because I was going to be a substitute teacher I pretty much had to take every single class and learn everything because I would be used for Grades K-6.
It was an intense week at something I had never encountered before, but I made it through and am now a pretty good substitute teacher!
One experience I had didn't workout so well--the forming stage went off really well. I was joining a group of longstanding that had established itself and was successfully functioning in a long term performing stage where they repeatedly accomplished what were considered were good end results. As I was a retired professional in the field and they were all lay volunteers, all had great expectations of our combined resources. However, the storming phase was as far as we got because on the first opportunities of working together, I was immediately relegated to a position of silent observation and was expected to make absolutely no contribution until--well I don't know until what because I soon decided it was a bad fit and bowed out as I was very uncomfortable with being given heavy-handed orders from non-professionals (who may have felt threatened by my experience ...?).
I always think of the teacher training course I did, when we studied these group dynamics and experienced them ourselves. The first night was getting to know each other and forming into a group, with some fireworks in the storming section when we had character clashes. However, after a few weeks, we "normed" and were able to perform to a very high level, before finally ending our experience and moving on. I still have a number of good friends from that teacher training course.
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