Social Group Work in Educational Setting

 An Introduction

In India, social work professionals work with communities, groups, families, and individuals who are elderly, delinquent, unemployed, or disabled. Social workers' services are classified into various fields of practice based on their relevance to addressing specific social problems, meeting the needs of client groups, or reflecting specific settings. Family and child welfare, health and rehabilitation, mental health, occupational social work, community development, education or school social work, social work in corrections, and aging or gerontological services are among the prominent settings. Practicing social group work is possible in almost all settings. The models may differ depending on the needs and nature of the setting. Similarly, the role of the social group worker will differ depending on the setting. A social worker's role in dealing with a group is to assist its members in achieving the group's goals. The worker in this helping role is in charge of providing guidance and assistance to the group. A social group worker is someone who has knowledge, skills, and values. 

The group worker has an indirect rather than direct influence. He or she is more of a "helping person" than a "group leader." He lets the group work at its own pace and offers methodological assistance as needed. The worker is not a member of the group, but he joins it when an individual in the group, the group as a whole, or both require professional assistance to achieve their goals. It should be noted that a social group worker is not required in all groups. 

Many groups, as well as many individuals, will be perfectly capable of carrying out their programs on their own and will not require professional assistance. The professional group worker will be used as part of a helping profession and should be available wherever assistance is required. The role of the group worker in the group Work can begin in various stages in various groups. He may be required to play a role even before he meets athe group. This is especially true when a worker within an agency framework forms the group on purpose. His role in the formed groups can vary depending on the need and assistance required by the specific group. The worker's role will differ depending on the group. This is due to the groups and the environments in which they operate. As a group worker, one must maintain sufficient flexibility and adaptability, because an appropriate group work contribution in one group or at one stage of a group's development may be completely inappropriate in another group or at another time. Factors Influencing the Social Group Worker's Role Before attempting to define the specific aspects of his role with the group, the worker must first understand the group as a whole, including its requirements, problems, and goals, as well as the circumstances surrounding it. The following are the primary considerations or factors that influence workers' roles:

1) The environment

2) The agency's nature, function, and scope; and 3) The agency's facilities.

4) The nature of the group

5) Individual members' interests, needs, abilities, and limitations 

6) The group's objective

7) The worker's skill and competence 

8) The amount of assistance desired by the group and its willingness to accept assistance from the worker. These elements are present in every group situation.

The Role of the Social Group Worker in the Group Process Members' interactions and relationships in any group are never static. They change with the passage of time and the circumstances. These shifting interactions and relationships, as well as all of the group's developments and changes, are referred to as group processes. The worker, with his or her knowledge and expertise, assists the group in growing and adapting to the processes. When viewed from this perspective, a group worker must fulfill the following roles in the group: Enabler, Broker, Advocate, Activist, Mediator, Educator, Initiator, Empowerer, Coordinator, Group Facilitator, Communicator, and Interpreter Social circle Working in an Educational Setting: An educational setting is a group setting in which social workers assist children whose problems in school/college have their origins in social and emotional factors in the child, his family, or his social environment. In an educational setting, four parties are directly or indirectly involved in group work. 

They are as follows: the child, his or her family, the school staff, and the community. Rapidly changing social, moral, ethical, and religious values in today's society have destabilized certain "life styles," particularly among children. These had a significant impact on their health, both physically and mentally. Poor eating habits, poor personal hygiene, lack of rest, a need for immediate gratification, pleasure seeking behavior, and stress combine to form an unholy triad: Substance Abuse, Violence, and Early Sexual Experimentation. Certain built-in buffers of society that we had with our culture that functioned as both support and control are no longer available to today's children, particularly adolescents. Some of the vanishing buffers in our social fabric include the extended family system, a smaller community that was personal and closed, cultural uniformity in the smaller circle of living, traditional ways of thinking and behavior with very little individual need to exercise choices, and so on. As a result, the children are under tremendous stress. This is reflected in rising suicide rates and crime rates among children. 

There is a sense of urgency in providing today's children with the skills and support they need to face the demands and challenges of daily life. Because the individual, rather than the system, is recognized as the basic unit of society, it is essential and mandatory to assist children in developing skills to deal with a wide range of choices, challenges, and stressors in their lives and work toward better health. The values of a stable society and family must be replaced with the individual's skills that will allow him or her to be stable in the face of rapid change in the environment. Social group work is very important in this process of strengthening. To increase the capacity for social participation, the worker organizes group work activities such as recreation, role plays, storytelling, group exercises, or any other relevant program media. The worker promotes relatedness, belongingness, and a sense of identification among children through guided group interaction, which aids in the improvement of their social adjustment and the development of their personality. Self-, social-, and academic adjustments are very common among students, particularly adolescents and those approaching puberty.

 Underachievement, disruption, drop out, loneliness, isolation, and withdrawal from meaningful peer relationships are all common characteristics among them. In addition, there is the threat of substance abuse, identity crisis, disorders such as ADHD, Learning Disorders, Adjustment Disorders, Conduct Disorders, and so on. - Aids in the social and academic adjustment of children - Allows for constructive participation Leadership development and value education Education in life skills Educate the children on cooperation, teamwork, and role play. It promotes socialization. Career development is aided by career orientation. Mutual aid processes that occur in a group context benefit group members. One of the frameworks used in group work is the assumption that many people lack the necessary skills and experiences to deal with stress in their social relationships. These stresses usually occur during childhood, when children and adolescents transition from one status and role position to the next, or from one interaction milieu to the next. For example, when a child transitions from a relatively contained, secure, and static home environment to a school that is more open and dynamic, from primary school to middle or higher secondary school, from school to college, and so on. These changes cause stress because a child or adolescent is expected to adapt to a new set of norms and rules intended to regulate behavior. Adolescents in general face stress related to physical development, social acceptance, and academic performance. The level of stress is directly related to the level of life skills they have in dealing with change. 

For example, a young boy moving from a rural school to an urban higher education institution will experience more stress than a young person moving from an urban school to an urban higher education institution. Similarly, a child from an uneducated family will experience more stress at school and other educational institutions. The inadequacy of life skills such as verbal and nonverbal communication, asserting, dealing with feelings and conflicts, combined with the experience of functioning in a group consisting of members from multicultural backgrounds, increases stress and leads to maladjustment problems. This framework assists a group worker in understanding children and adolescents who exhibit stress symptoms and their inability to adjust in the group. The worker can organize a support group for these children to discuss their problems, learn from one another, and understand the coping strategies they are employing to deal with the situation. The group Babita Jacob worker can also assist them in learning new life skills to update their competence in dealing with stresses and stressors. Work in a social group Group work in educational settings has the following characteristics: 

1. Group work in educational settings involves multiple relationships and a multi-person process (worker to students, worker to teachers, worker to parents, student to student, parent to parent, parent to teacher, teacher to teacher etc)

2. The group serves as a vehicle for students to meet basic needs and strengthen their individual capacities. It encourages participants to identify with one another and gives the client the freedom to relate when he or she is ready.

3. A distinguishing feature of student group work is the use of colorful and creative program media such as play, discussion, arts and crafts, music, dance, drama, role play, outings, and parties to facilitate skill mastery and serve as a vehicle for fostering student life expectations.

4. Program activities allow for the use of nonverbal communication, which is a particularly valuable tool for children of all ages who are unable to articulate their needs and problems.

5. Individuals can benefit from membership in the group, exposure to its influences, participation in its activities, and the acquisition of a role and status within it. Social Group Work Models in Educational Settings: - The three models of group work with a broader scope in an educational setting are: remedial, developmental, and preventive.

1. Remedial groups are concerned with restoring normalcy after a breakdown.

2. The term developmental can be understood when it improves maturational tasks in the human life cycle as children progress through each stage, thereby assisting them in adjusting to and coping with the demands of each day.

3. Preventive Groups: promote the idea that prevention is preferable to cure. In this regard, providing life skills can be viewed.

Stage 1 — Orientation (Forming)

Group members learn what to do, how the group will function, what is expected, and what is acceptable. Students look for cues and clues from the facilitator and each other, as well as guidelines and stated expectations. They want to feel safe and comfortable, and many will only share a limited amount of information until that comfort zone is established. Some students will feel comfortable sharing openly even on the first day, either because they enjoy this type of interaction or because they are already acquainted with the facilitator and/or the other students in the group. As a facilitator, you can ask these students to provide examples, be the first to answer questions, and model positive interactions for the rest of the group. As the group leader, you can also assist your students in successfully completing orientation by providing clear guidelines, information, and structure, as well as by listening with compassion and keeping communication open and respectful. You might want to start your group with some low-risk warm-up activities to help them get to know each other and feel more at ease in a group setting.

Stage -2-Power struggle (Storming) 

Tuckman refers to the following stage as Storming, and it is marked by competition and conflict. As students gain confidence, they may challenge one another or the facilitators, try to form cliques and exclude or ignore certain students, and push limits. This can be frustrating for everyone involved, but it helps to remember that it is only a stage, and things usually get much better once it is over. One of your main challenges as a facilitator is to maintain boundaries, be an active but compassionate leader, allow everyone to be heard and express thoughts and feelings, all while teaching, reminding, and requiring them to remain respectful and productive. You can acknowledge differences while still modeling creative problem solving, assisting students in focusing on what they have in common and creating a more cohesive group. Conflict inevitably arises in the group members' personal relationships as they attempt to organize for the task. Individuals must bend and shape their feelings, ideas, attitudes, and beliefs to fit the group organization. There will be a greater desire for structural clarification and commitment as a result of "fear of exposure" or "fear of failure." Conflicts do exist, whether or not they manifest as group issues. Questions will arise regarding who will be held accountable for what, the rules, the reward system, and the evaluation criteria. These reflect disagreements about leadership, structure, power, and authority. Members' behavior may change dramatically as a result of emerging issues of competition and hostility. Because of the discomfort caused by this stage, some members may remain completely silent while others try to dominate. To advance to the next stage, group members must shift from a "testing and proving" mentality to a problem-solving mentality. The ability to listen appears to be the most important trait in assisting groups to progress to the next stage.

Stage 3 - Cooperation and Integration (Norming): 

At this point, being in a group is mostly fun and enjoyable. With balanced give and take, open communication, bonding, and mutual respect, group interaction becomes easier, more cooperative, and productive. If there is a conflict or disruption, it is relatively easily resolved and the group returns to its original course. Group leadership is still important, but the facilitator can take a step back and allow group members to initiate more and move forward together. As a facilitator, you can stay alert and assist the group in regaining focus as needed, encourage participation and creativity, and enjoy the flow of the activities. Continue to offer support and encouragement, reinforce the group's positive vibe, and fine-tune as needed. Interpersonal relationships are characterized by cohesion at this stage. Members of the group are actively acknowledging each other's contributions and resolving group issues. Cliques dissolve as leadership is shared. The level of trust in their personal relationships contributes to the development of group cohesion as members get to know and identify with one another. The children begin to feel a sense of group belonging and relief as a result of resolving interpersonal conflicts during this stage of development (assuming the group gets this far). Creativity is abundant. When group members reach this level of data flow and cohesion, their interactions are marked by openness and information sharing on both a personal and task level. They are pleased to be a part of a productive team. The major disadvantage of the norming stage is that members may begin to fear the group's inevitable future breakup; they may resist change of any kind.

Stage 4 - Synergy (Performing): 

Not every group reaches this level, and even if you spend the majority of the school year in Stage 3, it will be a productive and enjoyable group. Synergy emerges when a group shifts or evolves to a higher level, often without the group realizing it. There is a sense of group unity here, with members looking out for each other even outside of the group setting, deepening friendships or bonds, and a dynamic energy regardless of the task. This is an example of "the whole being greater than the sum of its parts." Not all groups make it to the Performing stage. When members of a group reach stage four, their capacity, range, and depth of personal relationships expand to true interdependence. People can work independently, in subgroups, or as a whole unit with equal facility at this stage. Their roles and authorities adapt dynamically to the changing needs of the group and individuals. Interdependence in personal relationships and problem solving in the realm of task functions characterize stage four. The group should be at its most productive by now. Individual members have become self-assured, and the need for group approval is no longer necessary. Members are task-oriented as well as people-oriented. There is unity: the group's identity is complete, morale is high, and loyalty is intense. The task function evolves into genuine problem solving, leading to optimal solutions and group development. There is support for problem-solving experimentation, as well as an emphasis on achievement. The overarching goal is to increase productivity through problem solving and work.

Stage 5 - 

Closure (Adjournment): The closure stage of a group can be confusing and unsettling if the members are unaware of it. After weeks or months of a smoothly running group, things may begin to fall apart for no apparent reason as the end of the group or the school year approaches. Students may argue and criticize one another, and anger may manifest itself in unexpected ways. This is a natural part of the group process. Many students (and adults) have no idea how to deal with endings, goodbyes, or losses, nor do they know how to find closure. For many students, being angry with each other or in conflict is easier than feeling or addressing the sadness of saying goodbye. Most people find it easier to be angry than to be vulnerable. Students who have experienced abandonment may become especially argumentative or unruly. As a facilitator, one of the most important things the worker can do is explain what is going on, validate the students' feelings, set clear boundaries, and treat the entire situation as another opportunity to learn and practice a vital skill - how to say goodbye. The worker must also organize a group closure activity, such as a party or a ceremony, and find ways for students to thank and celebrate one another, as well as honor what they have accomplished as a group. Adjourning entails the cessation of task behaviors as well as the disengagement from relationships. A planned conclusion usually includes recognition for participation and achievement as well as an opportunity for members to say their personal goodbyes. Concluding a group can cause some anxiety, resulting in a minor crisis. The group's termination represents a regressive step from giving up control to giving up. For a group to progress properly through the stages of group development, it must do the following.

1. Rotate group facilitation responsibilities.

2. The group's purpose/mission must be clear to all members, and the purpose/mission should be revisited on a regular basis.

3. Ground rules should be set and enforced.

4. Assist the group in understanding that "conflict" (in a positive way) is a normal and possibly necessary part of group development.

5. The group needs to be reminded to "listen" to one another.

6. The wrap-up at the end of each session should include meaningful and constructive comments about the group process.

7. Everyone must contribute and work together to transform the group into a "learning team."

CONCLUSION 

According to research on adolescents, at least one in every four of them is at high risk of never reaching productive adulthood. To address this issue, social group work can be beneficial. Modern education has become entirely academic in nature, rather than person-centered. It is centered on performance. It primarily assesses students' abilities to assimilate and reproduce information in specific formats rather than providing a platform for them to explore and hone their skills and talents. When practiced in an educational setting, social group work can help children develop the skills they need to become healthy, well-balanced adults.

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