How to Run an Effective Teacher Support Group

  • Monthly Meeting Structure
    Research suggests that social support is highly effective in lowering stress and the feeling of burnout in teachers (i.e. Greenglas, Fiksenbaum & Burke, 1996; Halbesleben, 2006; Larrivee, 2012; Luskin & Pelletier, 2005; Simbula 2010; Seligman, 2011a).

    Support from colleagues has also been linked to retention (i.e. Houkes, Janssen, de Jonje & Nijhuis, 2001; Ingersoll & Strong, 2011, Leung & Lee 2006; Whitaker, 2000). In addition, there are significant benefits to meeting and sharing journals face-to-face as part of a support group.

    Based on the research mentioned above, we thus incorporated monthly meetings as part of our Guided Journaling for Teachers Support Group (GJTSG).
  • Meeting Schedule
    In these monthly meetings, journaling teachers and teacher educators come together as a group over a period of ten months during the duration of one school year. As an incentive for the teachers to participate, the meetings take place on a regular work day.

    During these monthly meetings, journal entries are being analyzed and checked by the teacher educator for a balanced approach of entries in regards to observations and reflections. Based on the analysis, the teacher educator might feel the need to clarify or reformulate instructions or assignments, or give additional support in regards to writing.
  • Meeting Agenda
    In a typical meeting, one of the teachers:
  1.  volunteers a specific issue or observation that affected her and that she consequently wrote about in her journal.
  2. She reads excerpts from her journal to the group and also points out how she dealt with the issue.
  3. In a following conversation, participants ask questions, discuss her approach, reflect on her conscious or unconscious doings, discuss options, offer alternative solutions or develop new strategies.
  4. The teacher, who read from her journal, then chooses one or two of the suggested solutions to try them out.
  5. She also picks another teacher from the group she is going to team up with via phone, email or in person, during the next month to share her progress in solving the problem.
  6. This process is repeated for various issues shared by the group members.
  7. Every monthly meeting the group leader follows up on the progress made. 
Cited References

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