All for one and one for all
Working with groups for teachers; The benefits of cooperative education for adult students; Personal Experience - Sofya Esaulenko
WORKING WITH GROUPS
Individual students are usually very easy to work with - you can cater to their needs and work on their personal goals and problems. All attention is directed at them, they can ask questions and get an explanation at any time. Preparation usually takes less time when it comes to individual lessons as well. But what about groups?
Offline lessons with groups
In the very first lesson, it is important to establish a set of rules with the group - this will help people cooperate better.
Ask them to enter the room quietly and get to their seat without disrupting everyone in case they are late. Also, it is important to ask students not to interrupt each other when they speak or answer the questions, not to comment on each others’ mistakes and opinions, and to be respectful and tolerant of each other.
Ice-breaking activities are a must in the very first lesson, they will help students get to know each other and feel more comfortable. You will also understand how people interact and how to pair them in a better way.
Using pairwork and groupwork is a definite advantage of working with groups. This will increase student-talking time and give each student more chances to practice, improve their fluency and voice their opinion.
Among such activities are roleplays and debates. We already talked about various speaking activities that are sure to get your students to talk in no time. Check them out here.
Working with groups online
Online group lessons are trickier for teachers because it is sometimes not so easy to manage. Fortunately, zoom boasts a few great tools for that, breakout rooms being among them. Give the task to the whole class and then divide them into pairs or groups. You can set the time to 5 minutes, and don’t forget to send them to the rooms “automatically”, otherwise they may accidentally press the wrong button and stay in the main session.
As a teacher you can turn off your camera and a microphone and move from room to room listening in and noting down mistakes, helping if the need arises. There is also a button that students can press to summon you to their room if they encounter a problem.
You can also play different online games with your students, such as Kahoot or Baamboozle. They can bring much-needed fun to the classroom and will engage students like nothing else. Jeopardy games at jeopardylab.com are another all-time favourite.
You can bring student interaction to another level by creating a jamboard, dividing the frame into several parts, and assigning each part to a group or a student. Share the editor’s link with your student and give them the task. Racing to finish the exercise will keep them focused and seeing each other's work will play on their competitiveness.
Do you have your secrets of working with groups? We would love to hear them!
Adult education: how can co-operatives help?
Studies have shown the crucial benefits, ranging from career to wellbeing, that education can bring to adults – and co-ops have their part to play
Adult education is too important to be left to chance, argues a 2016 report by Warwick University, whose research highlighted the benefits of adult education for individuals, employers and communities and called for a national strategy for adult education. Can co-ops play a role in this?
Chris Butcher, research and public policy officer at the Workers’ Educational Association was one of the speakers at the Co-operative Research and Education Conference in Manchester earlier this month. He talked about the work of the organisation – the largest voluntary sector provider of adult education in England and Scotland.
WEA recently conducted a survey of over 2,000 participants, asking them how classes had affected their lives.
It found that over 52% of those taking classes are aged over 60 while 21% are non-native English speakers. They said said classes helped them feel better, keep their minds active, make new friends and increase self-confidence.
Around 49% were able to progress in their career while 12% said the classes helped them get new jobs. The survey also revealed that people taking WEA courses were more active culturally and improved relationships with their children.
Nigel Todd, chair of the board of trustees at the Co-operative College, explained how the College’s own research had revealed that by joining co-operatives people were learning new things as well as gaining trust and build a connection with the organisation. He suggested that co-operatives could also be key to reaching prison populations, helping them to learn new skills and rebuilding the prison education service.
Co-op philosophy can also help bring together groups of people to improve their communities, he added. Mr Todd gave the example of The Community Cooperative – Greening Wingrove Community Interest Company in the Wingrove and New Mills’ Estate, Newcastle upon Tyne.
Supported by the Big Lottery Fund, the initiative is running projects to improve the appearance of the local area while giving residents the tools to make a different, including by running training sessions. “Someone with a disability, who lacked confidence, attended the course as informal education and went on to do a master’s degree,” said Mr Todd.
Hazel Johnson of the Open University told the session co-ops also ad something to offer to young people. She suggested people could engage in co-ops to gain skills and formalise these through organisations such as the WEA or the College.
Kerry Facer of Bristol University, who delivered a keynote speech at the conference, argued that education bodies needed to work together as a collective sector rather than just defend a particular institution.
“Adult learning is not dependant on institutions, there are questions about how adult institutions can act as platforms to support people to learn from each other,” she said.
“We need to get beyond defending institutions and think about the different landscape we are in and resources we have otherwise we end up competing with each other.”
My name is Sofia and I teach English in small groups for 2 years almost. I adore dancing, visiting new exciting exhibitions and theatre plays. Moreover, last year I was the one who organized the fresh popular project “HSE for Kids”.
As for me, I have chosen to work with little groups of students (from 3 to 7 people) as in this case it’s easier to concentrate on the goal of the whole team. During months of working I have pointed out several essential tips while working with groups.
The first point is to remember about each person in the group.
Sometimes I face a situation in which during a lesson only several of my students from a group actively do all tasks and ask questions. Another part of students can just keep silent and try to be ghosts. From time to time I can give this opportunity to them as all we ordinary people with our problems. However, I try to save my positive vibes during all my classes and avoid the situation in which my students can feel loneliness and disappointment. That’s why there are many kind jokes which are used during the class. Additionally, I always remember about wants and desires of my group – it can be speaking activity or more perceptive skills.
The second is to let everybody speak.
I am sure you had his case in your practice: only leaders are controlling the situation during the class; more passive students feel that they can’t present the same level of self-confidence. This case can easily be transformed into a positive: just make a discussion – the most natural way of showing respect to a classmate’s point of view. While discussing many different questions can be asked which provoke others to share their point of view. Our aim as teachers here is to control the level of respect and open-mindedness.
Furthermore, it’s extremely crucial to give feedback to your students for showing our respect to their side.
The third is to remember that people are not clones.
Every person has it’s own way of speaking, presentation of his point of view, reaction to a situation, and level of confidence in his words and in himself generally. Honestly, we as teachers should always take into consideration that students in our group can’t be similar to each other (that’s only the beginning of the 21st century). Fast superficial analysis during 2 first classes needs to be used most correctly: try to follow each freshman in your group and create a little portrait in your head about him: his vocabulary, his readiness to take part in a discussion, his reliance on praise, etc.
That’s all for now!
Stay amazing ♥