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Group DynamicsTeaching esl students can present a lot of challenges and in order to address these, a sound understanding of group dynamics and how these can hinder or help students must be recognised. students are not blank canvases which can be moulded and impressed upon, they bring with them a pre-conceived set of values and a world view which at times may be at odds with the lessons being taught and the other students in the class. This can either be looked at by teachers as a negative or a challenge which can contribute to the lessons in a positive way. Group dynamics are interesting because there is no set formula to gaining the results a teacher is aiming for, and so lends itself to an interesting observation of human behaviour. As mentioned previously, students bring with them a set of personal values and a world view which depending on nationality, childhood, religion and any number of human experiences, can sometimes work against a teacher and the goals of the class. However, students involving themselves in an esl course would hopefully bring a positive attitude and eagerness to get along, although getting along may not always be a positive thing, as I will discuss later. Although there may be no concrete formula to gaining success in a group the educational psychologist Bruce W Tuckman did undertake a study into group dynamics, from which he developed his widely accepted model of the different stages of group development. He outlined four stages, initially, and later added a fifth to describe the different stages groups go through in order to achieve success, those stages are forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. During the forming stage students remain agreeable and distanced, they generally keep their full opinions to themselves so as not to cause to much controversy as in this stage behaviour is dictated by the desire to be accepted by their fellow students. This is also the stage where first impressions are formed and influence students behaviour towards one another. In this stage the teacher can influence the progress, to a degree, by providing students with activities which allow for personalities to emerge and communication between students. It?s important students have time to experience this stage as a class full of students who are repressing their personalities can lead to frustration and stress which take the focus from the task at hand. Once students have bonded and are more comfortable in each others presence they can begin to express their opinions more forcefully and issues can begin to be addressed, this stage is the storming stage. Depending on the students and their personalities, this stage may be welcomed or repressed, those welcoming it will have less patience and want to address certain issues with students and perhaps the teacher. Those repressing it want to stay in the comfort of the forming stage and avoid confrontation at all costs, which is not productive to class progression. A teachers role in this stage is one of personal choice, either leave it for the students to sort out or if it?s getting out of hand or dragging on too long step in and try facilitate an agreeable compromise. It is important that issues are addressed in the storming stage so that students are able to move onto the next stage of norming. This consists of students understanding and accepting their fellow students abilities and limitations and they are prepared to change any pre-conceived ideas they had of their classmates. Although this is a nice stage and many students fear leaving its agreeable atmosphere, the next stage of performing is what the teacher should be aiming for, as this is where students gain trust in each other and tasks are achieved. The final stage of adjourning is the sense of loss a student may feel once the course is completed. Group dynamics maybe an area of teaching that is sometimes overlooked, however it plays a major role in a students ability to be successful in the classroom, which is why teachers need to spend time observing and facilitating this otherwise the hard work they put into their lessons will be pointless. References: www.chimaeraconsulting.com/tuckman.htm