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ConferencesLiberating StructuresTeaching

Three new Liberating Structures for me…

1 November 2019

This week I was part of a Liberating Structures Immersion Workshop in London. It was held at Happy Ltd and was a very interesting couple of days. In order to embed some Structures, I want to reflect on three that I used and enjoyed. To be honest, Liberating Structures can be difficult to understand from the online descriptions. It’s best to experience them in person.

Three structures that I think will be useful for my practice:

  • Spiral Journal is a tool for facilitating reflections. You start off folding a piece of paper twice to generate four parts. Then you open out and focus your thoughts by drawing a spiral – slowly and deliberately. Then you answer four prompts. Fundamentally, the key part is working individually. Sharing from this can be done in various ways. I was inspired by the simplicity of this structure and used it today with my students. They asked why the spiral. They engaged well. It all took about 5 minutes – a bit rush but useful, I think.

  • What, So What, Now What? – one of the most interesting LS structures I learned. By slowly and deliberately moving up the Ladder of Inference, we can better make sense of what has happened. We can better separate our observations (data) from our assumptions and beliefs. In the practice of this exercise, we were held to the Ladder of Inference very well by one of the participants. It really helped me to be aware of the difference between our observations and what I add to that to create meaning. When we are rushed we tend to make decisions that are based on many different factors. W3 slows this up and separates the different elements of decision making. I found this very useful and plan to use it very soon.
  • Appreciative Interviews – we used these as part of a string of Liberating Structures.  Appreciative Interviews invites us to tell a story about a time when we were proud of what we accomplished. It was a good experience that, I think, allowed me a very positive connection with another participant. I talked about organising the Year 4 Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Day in July, 2019. I enjoyed the co-production with students – being able to facilitate the sharing of diverse student voices. It built positively my sense of purpose which we had explored earlier. Not sure when I will use this yet but I’m keen to utilise and recapture the happy vibes this structure created.