Stages of Group Development
Groups naturally go through stages. Just think about those initial awkward moments of first joining a group and getting to know people for the first time versus the fluidity and ease after working with them for a while. Bruce Tuckman identified four stages that he named: forming, storming, norming, and performing (adjourning was added later). Briefly, in the forming stage the group comes together to create goals and expectations. In the storming stage, the members of the group naturally compete for attention and leadership. In the norming stage, the members of the group adjust themselves and their behaviors and reach various agreements. In the performing stage, the members actively and effectively work together as a team.
These stages of group process are very important to understand. Students need adequate time and effective leadership in order to successfully move through them toward better collaboration. When a group only occasionally participates in Socratic Seminar, they may not have enough time to work through the issues of the storming stage. On the rare occasions they get together, they may stay stuck endlessly working out the same group dynamic problems.
Many teachers who try Socratic Seminar only a few times get frustrated because the group is stuck quarreling in the storming stage. Without understanding that there are other stages to achieve and work toward, these teachers may give up on Socratic Seminar as a viable class activity. Knowing that there are other stages will help facilitators persevere past the storming stage.
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