Training on Issues of Communication and Group Dynamics (2002-2004 & 2005-2007)
This training dealt with communication, group dynamics, and handling conflict situations at school, with particular emphasis on communication issues in a cross-cultural framework.
The main goals of the training were:
(a) Sensitizing educators and making them more aware of relationship dynamics that develop at school, in the family, and in the community;
(b) Prompting teachers to discover their individual distinctness and helping them develop personal skills to relate to others; and
(c) Giving them the necessary psychological know-how so they can be able to manage the daily problems they face at school.
The teacher, in order to deal with the challenges posed by the coexistence at school with individuals with different cultural identities and diverse life experiences, needs to learn
(1) how to decipher the messages communicated through what appears as ‘difficult behavior’;
(2) how to promote teamwork, and evaluate team dynamics using his/her emotions as a tool;
(3) how to manage and control the negative emotions and disagreements that emerge in class, and how to turn them into sources of a creative synthesis of the opposites; and
(4) how to set ground rules and rules of behavior, which, while ensuring the orderly functioning of a team, would not hinder the inner development of individual team members.
The trainers set up "steady groups of teachers" whose members remained the same throughout each training cycle. This was deemed necessary, in order to (a) ensure the smooth flow of the process, and (b) to help create a climate of bonding among members, and also of confidence and familiarity, so they could open up emotionally to each other.
In the 2002-2003 school year, two such teacher groups (each composed of 20 to 25 members) went through a cycle of three five-hour-long meetings, where they discussed and analyzed issues regarding the place of the teacher inside and outside the classroom.
In the school year 2003-2004, in addition to the two groups of the previous year, two new groups were formed. These four groups completed a cycle of six five-hour-long meetings. The evaluation of these training meetings, conducted at the end of each of them, showed that they were indeed useful and effective.
The training of teachers on psycho-pedagogical issues continued in the next phase of the Project (2005-2007), as well.
On May 5-6, 2006, initial exploratory meetings with secondary (middle) school teachers were held, both in Xanthi and in Komotini.
The purpose of these meetings were:
(a) Reconnecting/reuniting with teachers who had participated in the communication and teamwork training groups of the Program's previous phase;
(b) Getting to know the new participants and helping them familiarize themselves with the way such training meetings are conducted; and
(c) Drafting a general action-plan for the next year.
After the exploratory meetings, the trainers, just like in the previous phase, set up “steady groups” and conducted a training cycle that consisted of four 5-hour-long meetings for each of these groups.