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A Respite for Teachers
  1. Buzz-grouping your students gives you, the teacher, a respite in which, for the moment, your students are doing all the work and you have a breather. While they are processing with one another how to answer your question or challenge, you are recollecting your thoughts and perceptions, rediscovering where you are in what you had planned to teach at this point and can be planning how to pick up pieces you had missed getting to or which you felt had been under-received by your students. You can take a fresh grip on the information you have yet to impart to your students that session.

  2. If you have really done your job as a teacher and got your students all wrought up over an issue you were teaching, as we remarked at the start of this paper, all of them are waving their hands, all urgent to speak. Instead of thwarting that effect, throw your students immediately into buzz-groups to sort out their responses on that issue and report back in a more orderly fashion. All getstheir say, all are reinforced in the topic and in their related awarenesses, all are heard by others. (“Turn to the two or three people nearest to you and develop, between you, what YOU think is the best answer to this matter.....”)

  3. Best of all:  you get to observe your students meaningfully in action. Normally, so many things are demanding your attention that your attention machine gets worn out before you ever discover much about your students, where they are, what is going on with them, and what they really know and understand about your topic or subject. Now, you can discover these things with great ease and comfort, and empower yourself to resolve much of what had been between you and the most successful of educational outcomes in your class.

An Aside:   A Lecture for Teachers
The lecture method was invented for the situation, back in the Dark Ages before printing, when only one copy of some book would be at the university, and the most qualified person would both read from it to the class and lecture based upon it, for the benefit of all the students who otherwise had no access to that book and its contents.

A few of the relevant circumstances have changed since then. Some churches and most schools have continued the practice, though — all that most classrooms need to become a religious service is a hymn or so!

Even if you are wedded to the lecture method and have never "buzzed a group" in your life, you can experiment just a little. Identify the key point you've just been trying to make in your lecture and instruct your students to turn to their partner, or to "the person next to you" if you've not pre-set the class, and ask, "Between you, let's see which pair of you can come up with the best statement of this issue." Or turn your main point into a question and ask that question.

  • Get them started (by look or persuasion, make sure all are participating).
  • Allow 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Sound your waterglass, cup or chime one bing and state the half-minute's notice.
  • Sound three gentle bings to end the "buzz."
  • Sound out (and give at least a little positive reinforcement to) each of a few pairs' wording of the issue (or answer), reinforce from there the point you were making, and move on.
Now, that wasn't too hard, was it? And easier to do next time. Courage, there — you soon can be effortlessly moving your students in and out of interactive process, and through different levels of process, with amazingly well-focused discussions, like a master conductor directing his well-trained orchestra! Yes, you!

If you are shy about it, test out these rules one step at a time until you feel them working for you, and you see and are pleased with the results — especially pleased with what you see happening with your students, as you manage your classroom into ever more excellent topical focus and intensity.

Consider:  what matters in the classroom is what is learned, not what is taught. Of what value is even the most eloquent lecture if little is learned from it? Dynamic Format lets you have it both ways.


Beyond the Classroom — The Board Room, the Clubhouse, City Hall
Note that Robert's Rules of Order were designed to shut down communications within a group so that business can be transacted. The too-typical result leads to the joke about the hippopotamus being a horse designed by a committee.

Dynamic Format, instead, elicits focused communications in a way which causes the business transacted to reflect the highest considerations and actual genius of the group.

Board meetings, annual business meetings of societies, faculty or staff meetings, planning groups, task forces, town meetings, etc., are just as appropriate for this set of focusing strategies. This form of participant involvement, fostering expression from each participant's own perceptions while sustaining a topical focus, yields results far superior to those of the methods historically or currently in general use.

Any corporation, society, committee, task force or staff can immediately, easily and sharply improve its performance and product.


Beyond Clearing the Mental Traffic Jam
Focused "buzz-grouping" per Dynamic Format enables everyone to get in his/her say, so that deliberations can move forward and all participants are fully and productively engaged. Instead of sitting there bursting with things to say and mentally rehearsing what they're going to say until they can grab the floor, participants fully express themselves and are freed to listen, as well as to move forward in their thoughts and perceptions. Beyond that effect —

Socrates was among the first to discover that to describe a perception develops that perception further. The original schools, in classical Greece, were set up not for the benefit of students, but to provide qualified audiences for the leading thinkers and perceivers to describe their perceptions to. Socratic method is a set of techniques for getting participants to examine their inner and/or outer perceptions and to describe in detail what they discover there.

The resulting peak learning experiences and "Socratic miracle leaps" phenomena which frequently occur with this kind of process, no less than the insights that come up on the couch of a good psychologist, are now easily understood in terms of modern psychology's most widely accepted or "first law": You get more of what you reinforce. Each time you describe one of your own perceptions, you —

  1. Reinforce that particular perception, discovering more and more about it, sometimes until it seems that you're perceiving the whole universe at once.
  2. Reinforce the behavior of being perceptive!
This is why groups conducted extensively through Dynamic Format not only perform so much better but increasingly better than do groups conducted through conventional meeting methods. All participants not only "get their say" without slowing one another down, but describe enough from their own perceptions to expand those perceptions, to deepen their insight, and to be freed to listen further.

The Japanese had to teach us the American-discovered technique of product quality control. Can we teach ourselves this form of meeting quality control, which may well prove to be of far greater significance to us all? You have the above simple instructions in hand, and enough information about them to devise your own "Dynamic Format" rules, should you need different ones. The rest is up to you.


Comments to
Win Wenger

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