Where’s Your Cohort?

Cohorts are having a moment. Most of the circles I run in have at the very least experimented with some cohort-based initiatives for continuing education and professional development. I’ve participated in some. I’ve organized others.

I’m kind of a fan of the cohort.

It’s not a class. There is no teacher up front delivering lectures while you scribble (or type) notes. You will not be tested. Check that. You won’t be tested on course material. You will be tested on the value you add to the group, measured in attention and questions.

Though there’s no teacher, a good cohort has a strong leader, and the leader even teaches some. Mostly, though, she sets up and guards processes for exploration. She makes sure the cohort is accomplishing what its participants need it to accomplish.

The curriculum for a cohort is what the participants bring with them. The cohort I was in required each of us to make two presentations about an issue we were dealing with or a question we were working out. Tell us what the issue is, then tell us what kind of help you need. Help us help you.

It is a very helpful combination of democratic, user-driven structure and expert leadership. The two things a cohorts needs to succeed are curious participants and a skilled leader. That’s it.

Where’s your cohort? Want to start one?

Note: Presbyterian youth workers in Illinois and Indiana can sign up now for the cohort I’m organizing. It’s a Youth Ministry Coaching Program cohort, the one I did, led by Mark Oestreicher of the Youth Cartel. It’s starting next fall. Half the cost for each participant is covered by a generous grant from the Synod of Lincoln Trails. Click here to sign up.