One of the hardest parts of running a group is getting the other adults, whether therapists, paras, TAs, or parents, involved in the activity. The most successful sessions I run are when the adults attending are just as invested as the students.
It’s a careful balance to strike. Ultimately student engagement and involvement is always the goal, but getting the adults to buy-in enhances the experience and helps achieve student goals.
Below are a couple tips I have for helping get the adults in the room excited about attending your groups and keeping that energy going for all your sessions.
Find people who are genuinely interested: Kids know when someone is faking. The best thing to do is find colleagues who you think might have a stake in your group and ask them if they’d be interested in being the go to person with a student. In my case, maybe there’s a para who is also a slam poet, a TA with an English degree, or a Speech therapist who has an interest in abstraction in language. Reach out to those individuals as you set up your schedule and see if you can build your groups with their support in mind.
Bring engaging material: As much as I love Shel Silverstein, if he was the only poet I taught it would not only bore students and do them a disservice, but it would cause most adults involved in the group to tune out. People like variety, so offer it to them. Furthermore, bring material you're excited about teaching, that kind of enthusiasm will rub off.
Offer your reading list: This is specifically for groups that involve parents, if they see their kids enjoying material they’ve never heard of, offer them a bit of your knowledge. A little kindness goes a long way.
Keep the activities challenging: When I set up movement based games I like to make them challenging (not impossible or difficult, this distinction is important) so that both the students and adults have an opportunity to support one another. This creates opportunities for parents to step-up and help their kid, students to teach a new move to a teacher, and other small moments where the dynamics are refreshed and the pressure is taken off the young-old split.
Just Ask: Make a point to ask people to get involved when you see them on the periphery. You don't have to call them out or stop mid-session to do it. Be polite and talk to them before or after the group. Very rarely will people say no. Remember, this is your session, you’re in charge.