How to Manage a Group Activity

Here are some things to keep in mind as you manage group activities in the style of the Pongo Teen Writing Project:

  • Group process can be a huge asset, but it is also your principal challenge. (See Pongo's Group Process for ideas about interacting with youth, clarifying boundaries, and setting limits.)

  • Establish rules at the beginning, relying heavily on input from the group. (You might set the group’s rules at one class and then merely read them at the beginning of other classes.)

  • Be aware of transitions. These provoke anxiety in many Pongo youth. Explain early on what will happen during an activity, and what will happen when the activity is over. Repeat the transition information as necessary, such as at the end of the activity.

  • Be flexible and open as you run an activity. Have many alternative activities and approaches available and in mind, in case your planned activity doesn’t work.

  • Be as thoroughly prepared as you can be, including arranging supplies, coming early to check and arrange the room, expecting the worst in terms of resource availability.

  • Give people some opportunities for private, personal creative writing. You may be surprised about what is accomplished.

  • Manage your time well in order to communicate safety and control. Start on time and end on time.

  • Have some easy, mindless activity for people to work on in case you have to delay the start of an activity or have time to kill.

  • If you have colleagues in an activity, arrange for them to be active participants. They should circulate, they should keep an eye on unhelpful interactions between teens. They should contribute ideas with the group when that is useful, they should offer help to individuals, they should provide solutions to problems.