Here is your short essay on Group Conferences

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Faculty meetings, staff meetings, orientation meetings, group case conferences, and committee meetings can each take the form of a group conference.

They may be conducted formally, but the tendency in supervision is to employ group processes and to encourage full participation by all those present. The meeting should be a group undertaking wherein all staff members participate and feel free to express their views.

Decisions should be reached through group consensus, and the spirit of the meeting should reflect a sincere interest in improving the teaching-learning situation.

Careful planning can do much to enhance group conferences and to make the participants feel that the meetings are worthwhile. Attention should be given to such details as the time, place, and frequency of meetings.

Planning the program and preparing the agenda should receive special attention.

Programs for supervisory group conferences should generally be based on problems presented by staff members. Panel discussions, demonstrations, presentations of case studies, and small group discussions will lend interest to such meetings. Records should be kept of all decisions rendered and action taken.

Group conferences are enhanced when members share time, ideas, and themselves. A feeling of trust, recognition of every individual's right to his/her opinion, an absence of pressure tactics, and a unity of purpose characterize a successful group conference.

There is interaction among members as they all work together to achieve goals formulated by the group. The final criterion of success is, of course, the effect of the meeting on the improvement of the education of the students.

Workshops may vary in length from one or two days to two weeks or more. Some workshops are in the nature of a weekend retreat. Others constitute summer school courses and may require that the class meet three hours per day. College credit may or may not be given for workshops.

In a well-conducted workshop, individuals can work by themselves on their own specific problems or work cooperatively with other members having common problems.

Each member of the workshop should have an advisor. The two should have an initial meeting to agree on a general plan of attack and should then meet whenever necessary during the course of the workshop.

Individuals should be free to consult any of the resource people who are expected to make them constantly available.

Workshops should have access to a large room where the entire group can meet as a unit, several small rooms where group meetings can be scheduled, and a few offices in each of which two or three people can conveniently meet.

A reading room, containing important resource material and in which members can work on the preparation of their reports, is also helpful and time conserving.

When workshops or retreats have been carefully planned and staff members are motivated to put forth their best efforts to make them productive, success is technique frequently find that workshops can be overdone, however.

When faculty members begin to find them repetitious or monotonous, it is time to change the format or bring in new blood. Many faculties now conduct separate workshops for old and new teachers for this reason. This tactic also has its disadvantages.

Workshops can be a propitious opportunity for present and incoming faculty members to become better acquainted from those senior members to absorb new ideas from those who have just joined the staff, and for the younger members to learn from those with experience.

Working conferences usually have a particular goal in mind and address themselves to preplanned tasks. Examples of such conferences are: the Regional Conference on Curriculum Improvement in Secondary School Physical Education.

The Conference on Promising Practices in Elementary School Physical Education; the Study Conference on Physical Education and Recreation for Handicapped Children; the National Conference on Professional preparation in Dance, Physical Education, Recreation education, Safety Education, and School Health Education; and the National Conference on the Development of Human Values through Sports.

It is obvious as one review these multifaceted titles that staff members who have the privilege of attending such conferences will grow and learn a great deal.

Working conferences are usually planned and conducted under the auspices of a steering committee, which meets a number of times to organize the conference. Much depends on the thoroughness with which this organizational work is done.

Such conferences can be local and have only fifty people in attendance, or they may be national in scope and include several thousand. The important aspect of such conferences is involvement.

Organization into small discussion groups with competent chairpersons, frequent reporting to the total assembly, roving resource persons, and periodic summaries of progress are important feature.

From a supervisory standpoint, workshops and working conferences are beneficial because:

• They present an excellent opportunity to share new ideas.

• They reassure participants about the significance of their life's work.

• They furnish inspiration to a large number of those attending.

• They present a vast amount of pertinent information.

• They provide an opportunity for fellowship and the formation of friendships.

• Through published proceedings, they disseminate new trends and new knowledge to a large number of readers.

• They provide another means of interpreting the work of the profession to the public.


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