Working in groups

Ujjwala talks to Santwana, Sasit and Nischal - some of our older participants in the intensive workshops in Kavre.

For our Write to Speak introductory workshops, we usually divide our participants into groups according to age so that some instructors work with participants from a similar age group.But for our intensive workshops, we usually have participants ranging from 13 and above in the same class. For these workshop, our challenge is to tailor our teaching and curriculum to suit the understanding level of 13-year-olds while making sure it isn’t too basic or boring for older participants.

I was worried about this when we kicked off our intensive workshop in Kavre during the first week of April. Fortunately, our workshop went smoothly and the age factor didn’t prove to be that big of a challenge. What worked for us, I think, is that we had three instructors who could work closely with the participants in smaller groups or even individually.  We did most of the exercises in smaller groups with one instructor overseeing activities of each group. For most of these activities, the older kids stuck together in their own group as did the younger ones making it easier for us to work with them. At some points, we also saw the participants themselves taking initiatives to explain activities to others and helping each other out.

The dilemma of how you cater to students with different comprehension and understanding levels is a very real one, not just in workshops like ours but also in classrooms where students are of the same age.

In such scenarios, multiple instructors are ideal. But when not possible, we realize doing activities in smaller groups works wonderfully too. Students take on leadership roles, encourage each other, build a habit of listening to each other,and all this happens quite organically. The role of the instructor when alone in a big class room, I believe, is then to be a good model for students so that when they work in groups, they can replicate the classroom principles set by the instructor to create a safe and lively classroom space that encourages creativity, self expression and empathy.

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