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The eighth session last week centred around learning teams, collaborative inquiry, problems of practice, and how to facilitate, lead, and share leadership within learning teams and communities.

During our first main activity I decided to be brave and volunteer for the unknown! Each group needed someone to volunteer to be the red personality (the details of which were not disclosed before the activity), and then everyone else in the group received other coloured personalities. We each read our information (without sharing with each other), and then were given the scenario that we were a team planning our final leadership course session celebration, including guest list, budget, menu, seating, greetings, etc. It turned out that the red personality for which I volunteered was the facilitator of the group. At first I was pleased, as working on my facilitation skills is a personal goal of mine. However, I quickly realized that all the other personalities around the table were going to be very difficult to bring together and actually facilitate once everyone took on their roles. We had a snacker, a very intense time-checker, a constantly distracted member, someone constantly on their cell phone, basically every nightmarish behaviour that we have all experienced (or maybe even participated in!) during staff meetings. I actually found that I used some of what we learned in the previous session about managing conflict, as the time-checker and the distracted person were losing patience with each other. I also tried to redirect my phone user to actually look things up for us to try to make their phone use valuable to the task. I will say that it was almost exhausting trying to keep the whole ship afloat and make decisions within this group, and we only worked for 15 minutes. I did however very much enjoy the opportunity to attempt to hone my facilitation skills, even with such a difficult group!

One other takeaway from this session is the different types of questions that facilitators or team members can ask each other to resolve cognitive conflicts and move towards solutions. We looked at examples of clarifying, specifying, and exploring questions, specifically in the context of a problem of practice or inquiry question to expand or refine thinking as necessary. They were great question starters for teacher teams, but they also reminded me to focus on my questioning techniques with students when they are engaging in collaborative and inquiry-based learning in class.

Another thought-provoking session, as always, with only two more to go!

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