At its most basic a ‘Fishbowl’ conversation is a dialogue that occurs between a smaller group of people while a larger group look on. It is often used in very large groups such as conferences where it would be impossible for everyone to participate. The topic or discussion is had by a smaller group while the rest of the participants look on; reflecting and observing.
In some fishbowls, any member of the bigger group can join the fishbowl. When this happens, an existing member of the fishbowl will voluntarily leave the fishbowl and free a chair. The discussion can even continue with participants frequently entering and leaving the fishbowl. Depending on how large the whole group is, many audience members can spend some time in the fishbowl and take part in the discussion. When time runs out, the fishbowl is closed and the moderator summarizes the discussion. This diagram from Vanderbuilt illustrates the concept.
How Does Fishbowl Learning Work at ICA
Fishbowl learning is a useful and effective strategy to ensure maximum participation for all students. It is especially good for role play situations and for deeper exploratory learning. For this reason we use the strategy in several classes at ICA. Students role play coaching in a smaller group, while the larger group look on, observing, reflecting and formulating questions.
In the case of Mentor Coaching the Fishbowl Strategy allows the Student Coach to be both INSIDE and OUTSIDE the fishbowl at the same time, which enhances the learning even more. This is achieved by the student bringing sample of a coaching session to class in the form of a recording, and playing it for the Mentor to observe.
In this case, the student is OUTSIDE the fishbowl while the recording is being played and is able to look on as a 3rd party observer. This distance allows the student to reflect on their own coaching, noticing things such as tone and style as well as identifying specific competency areas that might require further development.
Once the recording is concluded the student moves INSIDE the fishbowl for a more in-depth discussion with the Mentor Coach.
In each Mentor Coaching class students who have registered to coach enter and leave the fishbowl, taking both the role of Student Coach and Observer. Other students in the class observe and reflect.
For more details on Mentor Coaching visit the Learnsite.