Inside the SPHE Classroom.

Research (Aspy and Roebuck 1977) has indicated that students learn best in a situation where:
(a) they are respected and valued,
(b)they are understood and accepted rather than judged and
(c) teachers are seen as real and genuine.

According to Brian McAuley ("Healthy Living" First year teachers book N.W.H.B.) the SPHE teachers’ relationship with students will be characterized by Respect, Understanding and Genuineness.
(a) The teacher can show respect by knowing students’ names, listening, avoiding sarcasm etc.
(b) Understanding can be shown by asking for students’ viewpoints, sharing your experience where appropriate, being consistent etc.
(c) As a teacher you can indicate genuineness by admitting mistakes, practising what you preach, being prepared to go first in an exercise, etc.

Group Leadership Skills for the Teacher.

According to Brigman and Earley (Group Counselling for School Counsellors: A practical guide), there are seven group leadership skills:
(1) Personalizing: Put back the tables and seat the class in a circle - making sure that everybody in the group can see everybody else’s face. Make sure you know and use everybody’s name.
(2) Structuring: This involves explaining the structure of the lesson and keeping it on track. It also involves having a time limit on discussions/worksheets and sticking to it.
(3) Modelling: This means literally modelling the behaviour you are trying to teach. If you want students to do something you must be prepare to do it first…..
(4) Connecting: Create connections between group members by pointing out similarities i.e. "Mary, it sounds like you agree with what Jenny was saying earlier…."
(5) Responding: It is important to respond to all comments made by the group members, using the person’s name even if the response is only "Thank you Tom…." Reflecting feelings such as "I can see that you had a good time" is also effective.
(6) Involving everyone: One way of doing this is using the "round" e.g. everyone is asked in turn to speak. Good eye contact, looking interested, nodding and asking questions are good ways of keeping participants involved. A "show of hands" in response to the question is also a way of involving everyone.
(7) Summarizing: The teacher can summarize or ask participants to summarize, i.e. "What are some of the things we discussed?"

In order for these skills to be effective, the teacher must communicate certain attitudes such as:

Some non-verbal behaviour that goes with these attitudes is: good eye contact, leaning forward and looking interested.
These skills are basic to effective group leadership. Setting ground rules.

Ground rules generally relate to:
(a) how the work will be organized in the class
(b) how student can help or obstruct the learning process.

Some examples of ground rules might be:

Students should be involved in deciding on the ground rules and in revising them periodically.

Forming Groups: The ideal group size is 4-6 people. For very personal work students should work in pairs.
Assigning a number to each student e.g. (1-6) and having those with the same number sit together can form groups. The best seating arrangement is a circle as it maximizes communication.

The teacher should be actively keeping an eye on groups while they are working - ensuring that they are completing the task, have appointed a leader, and sitting in with the group for a minute or two. The major interaction however takes place between the students themselves rather than between students and teacher. Later the teacher can summarize the teaching points with the full class group.