Working with youth in a group can be both rewarding and challenging.
When youth work together in a group effectively, you can see some really great things happen. They can achieve more together than on their own, they can support each other through effective team work and they can build long lasting relationships.
Or, when youth work together in a group you can see things fall apart – fast. They can have trouble focusing their collective energies, they can decide that personal feelings or vendettas aren’t worth overcoming for the common good and they can fight and bicker until some young people stop coming to the youth group altogether.
Sometimes working with groups of youth it is a mixture of both. While you can work hard to facilitate team work and encourage relationships, each group development is different and they aren’t always going to get along like you wish they would. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed according to Tuckman (1965) that they won’t, at least for some of the time your group is together.
That’s why it’s important to recognize and understand the dynamics of youth group development. They don’t make every group experience rainbows and sunshine, but by understanding and recognizing the stages outlined by Tuckman and Jensen (1977 – see below), you can better understand where your group development is at. Also, teaching these phases to your youth you can help them become more self-aware group participants in the process.
The five stages of group development are:
- Forming stage – Early phase of the group meeting with one another
- Storming stage – Conflicts arise within the group as they get more comfortable with one another
- Norming stage – The group begins to work out their differences
- Performing stage – They work cohesively- getting things done and working together
- Adjourning stage – The group ends
Over the next few Wednesdays, we’ll go over these stages in greater detail so you can be better prepared when working with youth and identifying what stage of group development they’re at. We’ll also discuss ways you can help the youth in your program learn about Tuckman’s stages of group development. (n.b. use the links on the bullet point list above to read more about each of the stages).
Question: What is one of the biggest challenges of youth group development for you? Let us know in the comments below.
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