I completed the interaction over in the arts side of the classroom, where there was all the appropriate materials available to the children. It was in an environment which the children were familiar with and I thought that this would be an essential thing to make sure I didn’t change. I wanted the children to relax and feel comfortable within the environment, and not to feel over powered by any abnormal situation or myself. In order for the children not to feel overpowered the interaction took place within and familiar and commodious room. I decided to layout my group in a circular fashion as show below:
The layout of the group is shown above, myself being the black circle. I decided to layout my group in this particular was because we were all making thank you cards ‘together’ and I wanted to create a feeling that all the pupils were on an even par as each other. I too, made the decision to sit within the group circle because I felt that I would be able to guide the pupils in their activity. I also felt that this layout would be appropriate because the children would be able to communicate with one another, and I thought that this would be effective way of doing my activity.
I also thought that each of the pupils would fell like they belonged to the group, and were a member. This way, each group member would feel at ease to express any thoughts and feelings and personal ideas which would increase their own personal confidence. The interaction itself: Before I began to ask the children to start making their Thank you cards, I had to go through the introductory stage, also known as the forming stage explained in Tuckmans theory. First of all I introduced myself, explaining who I was, and what my purpose was with them.
I went round asking the pupils to tell me their names and made them repeat my name back to me therefore I knew exactly who I was. I also then described a few things about themselves to open up and to make the children feel less reserved. I then talked about what the activity was going to consist of. I found that most of the pupils were very enticed into my activity I had chosen and I could see them already choosing what coloured card they wanted to use! I did not give roles to each of the children because it was going to be an activity where they would simply use their own ideas and make their own personal card.
However I was the leader within the group therefore I could guide the interaction. One of the first things that I noticed before we even started the interaction was the behaviour of child two. They appeared to be very domineering and seemed to try to dictate the starting of the activity. At first I was very confused about what I should do to regain my leadership within the group therefore I chose to in my own to restart the conversation and tell the children that they could only start when they were sitting quiet.
This therefore gave the impression to the children that the activity would only start under my command rather than this of the pupil two. I felt that this communication was very effective because child two did not try to dictate the group after I made it clear that I was the leader of the group. When child two starting to dictate I actually did notice that they used ‘leader dominating’ group patters. This is where a participant will deliver one way communication patterns. It could suggest that the group will not be ready to continue independently.
This is why I felt it a necessity to intervene before this pattern continued. Below you can see in the diagram of how the participant delivered one way communication: We first of all started by choosing the specific coloured card that we wanted to use to make the cards. From the beginning of the interaction I noticed that there was a particular child, who appeared to be contesting with me for the leadership role. This could also be identified as a ‘power struggle’; however there were no arguments over the leadership because he followed the majority of the group in following my instructions.
Because one of my main intentions of the interaction was to make the participants feel like they were all equal and a sense of belonging in the group was created, I decided to include turn taking. Turn taking is an important part of successful group interactions. I wanted to make sure that all of the children were listening to each other and got their own say. So before we started actually making the thank you cards I asked each of the children in turn what they wanted to include on their cards. Each of the children spoke, and we all gave our opinions on their own ideas.
I think this was effective because the children felt reassured in what they were going to make. Throughout the interaction I saw that the communication between the group was that of very effective. There was constant communication not only between the participants, but also between them and myself. I was very pleased with the way in which this went. I tried to keep a record of who was talking to who throughout the interaction to enable me afterwards to see if the pattern was effective, however I found this incredibly hard to keep up with this whilst interacting myself.
Below shows a diagram which shows how effective communication is within a group, and I feel that this is how the communication flowed within my interaction. The arrows which meet half way to the middle indicate communication to the group as a whole and those which reached the other individuals will indicate communication which is delivered to that participant directly. You can see this shown below: I noticed that all of the children allowed each other to speak most of the time.
There were very little interruptions and most of the children were able to contribute to the interaction. I think that this shows that the children all had some sense of respect and valued the other children opinions as a whole. Mrs Paterson also explained how she chose the children for the group who had a lot in common, and it might indicate that they share the same beliefs and values therefore were able to interact well. Potential barriers within both group and one to one interactions:
Sometimes problems between groups can occur when the participants do not share the same values as each other. These values can be based around caring, and some people will always try to dominate and dictate the group. There is always the case where members of the group might pair off with each other, mostly with someone who has the same values and beliefs. They will then proceed by trying to fight for control of the group. There are cases in which the conversation and discussion can break down when irrelevant and deliberate distractions are aimed to disrupt the interaction.
This may result in some of the members feeling isolated or withdrawn. In order for a group to be successful it is imperative that there is a sense of ‘belonging’ amongst all group members. Groups will tend to work better and run more smoothly when the members share the same beliefs and values as each other. On the other hand those who share different beliefs may find it slightly more difficult to fit into the group resulting in problems. Although valuing diversity does tend to involve learning about differences in other people.
Below are some barriers in which may effect a group discussion:To stop participants from feeling withdrawn threatened or vulnerable it is essential that carers take the leader role within the group. This will enable you to start the communication and interaction going, and will able to focus in to specific aspects of the group. This can improve the effectiveness of the group. Whilst conducting my interaction I had to be very aware that I did try to avoid all these potential barriers and I do feel that I did. My aim of the interaction was to promote interactions between not only the pupils and myself, but also between the pupils.
I also wanted the children to be able to ask me questions, and feel that my guidance I gave them was reassuring, along with being about to share their ideas together whilst I remained in control but creating a fun and exciting activity! Looking back at what my aim and purpose as of my interaction I feel that I was successful in achieving this because, at the end of the day all the children had fun, and the interaction was full of laughter and joking. I truly believe that all of the children felt very comfortable around me and were able to ask me questions without feeling intimidated.
Along with this the children seemed to be able to interact with each other very well which I think was enhanced by some of the methods I used to try and include them all together. All in all I think it was generally a successful interaction and I certainly had a lot of fun, however I am now aware of what communication skills I lacked in, and what I could have done to improve them to enhance the effectiveness of my interaction. One of the many things that I was concerned about before starting my interaction, was the fact that I didn’t want any of the children to feel left out in any way, shape or form.
I knew that there was going to be some of the group members who were more confident, and more able to speak their ideas, opinions etc, however I did not want them to dominate the interaction. I believe that others may feel like they are less confident about talking amongst a group, and perhaps intimidated by the ones who do speak all of the time. This is why I need to make sure that I try to bring in the other group members to the discussion and activity in order for my to demonstrate my effective communication skills that I have learnt whilst achieving my purpose of my interaction too.
This did occur within my interaction, and there was at times points where I had to bring the quieter ones into the discussion, by asking them question, and seeing if they need any help what so ever, generally just interacting with them. I too had to make sure that the confident ones knew that when someone else was speaking, they should listen and wait for their own turns. I believe that I handled this well because looking back now, the children did not act badly to this, however they quietened down to a degree that they were genuinely listening to others as well as expression their won views, opinions too.
I was especially concerned about making sure that I could talk to the children with ease just like they were my friends. I didn’t want to appear to be a stranger to them, because I know if I did appear to be like this then they would not trust me what so ever. I did make sure that I did an introduction of myself, and took a few minutes to talk to the members, ask them questions and generally easing the tension. I think that the children responded very well indeed to this because they had no problem in be able to communicate with me and ask me questions.
Therefore I can confidently say, that I broke down the barrier of appearing to be a stranger. I realised this in the interaction when one child asked me for some help with sticking on some card to paper. She didn’t appear to be nervous, or quiet whilst asking me, and she was extremely friendly to me and we got on very well. I can vouch that this was the atmosphere between all of the children and myself and that this barrier was no longer a problem. Physical barriers may include: Blindness – there needs to be a lot of understanding whilst interacting with a blind person.
Usual body language like nodding your head rather than saying yes, or using facial expressions to show your feelings are not able to be used in this situation. This could break down the effectiveness of an interaction, therefore special consideration and thought needs to be taken, and reinforcement when saying yes, of no needs to be expressed. Touch can be an effective method to use when talking to a blind or visually impaired person, to attract attention etc. * Deafness – the degree of deafness will need to be established before this barrier can be prevented. Use of sign language can be used, or clearly spoken words can be said too.
It is a good idea to make sure that you do not cover you mouth, remain in eye contact with the person you are talking to, and to speak slowly and clearly, without shouting. Speech defects or stammers – it is important to make sure when you are talking to someone with a stammer or speech defect, not to interrupt, but you rephrase or repeat sentences to clarify. Otherwise they can be left feeling devalued. There were no children within my group who suffered from deafness, or blindness, therefore this is something that I did not have to content with, within the interaction, however I did have someone who had a slight speech stammer.
On incident which occurred in the interaction was that of when a child who has a slight stammer, was trying to talking about their own Christmas, and was having difficulty in saying what they wanted, another pupil within the group was being very impatient and kept interrupting. I told the child who was interrupting that it was not their turn to speak, and that they would have to wait till their classmate finished. I could see that pupil getting worked up because they couldn’t say what they wanted, so I made a gesture by standing up and sitting next to her and making sure she knew I was listening.
I then decided to help her by repeated what she has last said when she got stuck, so she remembered what she wanted to say. In the end she managed with my help to say what she wanted, and I made sure that I continued the conversation with her and the rest of the group, so she felt that what she had said was of relevance and she became more at ease when speaking after this. I was very pleased with the way I dealt with this situation by offering support, praising and comforting, considering I have not ever dealt with someone like this before.
My observer also stated in their assessment that I used ‘ offering support’ to help a client with a stammer to express what she wanted to say, and that I did it in a calm, friendly and compassionate manner which was very effective. This makes me feel that I did the best thing I could have done in this situation. However it also makes me aware that there has to be a great sense of delicacy taken when dealing with someone who is affected by a stammer, blindness or deafness, and that I would need a lot of training and experience to be able to deal with something like this in confidence.