Lesson 4: Stages of Group Development

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  • Anticipation
  • Orientation
  • Norm Setting
  • Coping with Conflict
  • Productivity
  • Closure


This stage begins the moment students become aware of a course; it is comprised of the students’ feelings, expectations, and experiences before the course begins and every day before class.  

  • What you can do:
    • Be prepared.
    • Create a welcoming environment.
    • Greet students daily.
    • Send a welcome letter.
    • Set course expectations and goals.


During this stage, students begin to feel a sense of inclusion, contribution, and responsibility to the group; students have increasing trust for their peers and the instructor.  

  • What you can do:
    • Be consistently prepared with class materials.
    • Establish a routine but allow time for adjustments when change is necessary.

Norm Setting

  • What you can do:
    • State the rules/guidelines clearly:
    • Post them in the room.
    • Review them as needed.
    • Be explicit about how you will interpret rules/guidelines or what they imply.

Coping with Conflict

During this stage, students have a safe environment in which to make mistakes and grow, while recognizing their personal power to do so and taking responsibility. 

  • What you can do:
    • Model clear, calm behaviour in the face of conflict.


During this stage, students begin to meet or make significant progress toward the goals and expectations of the course. 

  • What you can do:
    • Be prepared to deliver each lesson.
    • Be a “guide on the side:”
    • Anticipate situations that require additional support or clarification.
    • Understand when a previous stage needs to be repeated to increase productivity.


During this stage, the class or course is coming to end and youth are considering what comes next in their learning or life path.

  • What you can do:
    • Take time to review and check for understanding.
    • Provide a preview of the next day.
    • Show appreciation.