Timetabling for community – an invitation to bond as a group
Try the empathy lens:
Shadow a teacher who goes through a day of typical professional development at school.
Notice how that teacher feels throughout this process, and how they and others react to the PD they are engaging in.
Observe how many times the PD focuses on personal development or how often teachers get to have fun with one another!
There was no single time where the teachers met each other and engaged with each other as people.
Watch Kiran share the incident which sparked the design of the Congenial Meeting process.
- We found that most teacher gatherings involved serious conversations that were about work, and therefore the atmosphere was only professional.
- There was almost no interaction and collaboration between teachers in different key stages and they functioned as separate entities.
- We noticed that on the rare occasions that we did a game or an activity that was non-academic, it created a wonderful sense of lightness and congeniality amidst the team.
We therefore started planning for these times by design, and we started seeing a dramatic change in the teachers’ sense of well-being and how they performed in the classroom.
the school could intentionally design experiences for the well-being of a teacher as a person and not just as a professional?
Simple spaces/times called Congenial Meets where teachers engaged with each other at a personal level through a facilitated activity or game.
Teachers got a space where they could interact with each other and bond as people. They enjoyed being a part of a group that likes each other and shares common interests. They became comfortable in approaching each other as allies.
Through multiple congenial meetings different talents of teachers blossomed and were showcased. Teachers started knowing each other beyond their professional capacities, eg. maths teacher and a jokester, or sports teacher and a dancer.
In the long term, it created a sense of comfort and safety that this is a space where everyone is on the same team, that people here genuinely like and care about one other.
Here is What we Do
This video helps make visible the Congenial Meets process from ‘intention’ to ‘action’.
The video shows the rationale that underlies the process and what is done in preparation for it. You will also see how the event unfolds, as well as teachers’ reflections on the process.
a) Alma Mater Case study
This video shows an example of a Congenial meet in Rajasthan, where they use this process as a way to build community as a group!
Meet the Stakeholders
Eduhero Nikita Desai has been at the Riverside School for over fifteen years and has worn many hats: that of a parent, an educator, school leader of Key Stage 2, Head of the Riverside Learning Centre and the Design For Change Global Team. She is known for her friendly and approachable nature, her exemplary work ethic, and her understanding of user-centric design.
Watch her sharing tips and guidelines on how to plan for and execute successful Congenial Meets.
Watch Nikita share about the impact that Congenial Meets have had on her journey at Riverside.
Tips for the Leader
- Plan to start your next Professional Development session with a simple activity or game, and see how it can change the tone of the meeting!.
- Be thoughtful while assigning the responsibility of facilitating the first few Congenial Meets – choose teachers who are confident in their interactions with their colleagues.
- Use Congenial Meets as an opportunity to also build skills such as public speaking and confidence in teachers who may be less comfortable in front of a group.
Share with us your experience of how you have used this process in your context, any challenges you might have faced or just inspire us with your story :-)
Write us any questions you have about this process, and we’ll get back to you.
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