This is a follow-up to my Small Group Counseling Post :) I came up with a few tips to keep in mind when running small groups which have been helpful for me!
1. Document what worked and what didn't: In practicum, I wrote down which activities worked for group sessions, and it was very helpful! It can help you plan the remaining sessions for your group and reactions of the group members to the activity. Whether you write it down, use or use an excel spreadsheet, having a system for documenting and debriefing sessions can really go a long way! Also, if you happen to run the same type of group later, you can even refer to what has worked in the past for guidance and future planning!
This is a printable that I created to help me track what worked and what didn't for particular groups and sessions! It is available for FREE in my TeachersPayTeachers store! You can download it HERE.
2. Evaluations for Groups: This is an awesome way to get feedback from your students! I personally like the Likert scale when creating group evaluations :) Depending on the age group, feelings faces can also work well :) I've always learned that it is important to make an evaluation both at the start of the group and at the end of the group! Groups: Planning and Leadership Skills is a great resource to refer to when running groups :) This was a textbook for one of my courses and it has great examples on evaluations, brainstorming, sequencing, and so much more!! I recommend it :)
3. Switch things up & get creative! I love the idea of providing variety in groups and getting to see students interact in different ways! Discussions are great, but it also great to have a variety of games, movement activities, and more! Students can sometimes get used to the same thing, and providing different opportunities to learn about themselves and group members through other means is helpful as well :)
4. Drawing out members: Participation is key :) It is important for group members to get as much out of the experience as possible. Similar to the last step, various group activities can allow members to contribute and learn from others in the small group counseling experience. Giving each member opportunity to share is a great way to give each member the floor! Teaching group members to not only participate, but give others the opportunity to do so as well!
5. Go with the flow! In teaching, there is always a possibility that the lesson plan may not go exactly as written...and that also applies to small group as well. It is always possible that you may need to tweak your goals, objectives, and plans to fit the needs of the group. The key to this is flexibility, and going where your group goes, and letting the students contribute to the group goals, objectives, and plans :)
6. Have a Plan B: If something is not going as planned in the moment, you can try to switch to Plan B to see if that goes well. If you are trying something new that you are unsure of, having a plan B in this case can be extremely helpful :) Speaking of planning, over plan! I always find it helpful to plan more than you think you should! I also use my small group planning schedule that I created to plan what materials I need, in case I don't forget anything beforehand!
7. Resources: There are MANY resources and lesson ideas available to you! With pinterest boards, TeachersPayTeachers, counseling blogs, and much more! I try to organize my pinterest boards by topic so I can reference them in a flash when I'm looking for ideas! With all of the many resources for ideas, this can also help with variety in session. You can never have enough ideas for icebreakers and small group sessions!
My Small Group Planning Materials (Planning and Documentation Form) are also available for free by clicking HERE
What ideas do you have for small groups? What has worked for you and your groups in the past? Again, I would love to hear them!!
Take care & enjoy the summer,