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  • Roberta Van Norman

Forming, Storming, Norming and PERFORMING!

Hi everyone, I’m Roberta and I am the Wellness Coach at the school.

Think of it kind of as a guidance counselor I guess. I’m here to be a nice supportive guy.



So you’re back at school and now you have found out that you’ll be sitting in the same classroom for the whole day(!)


For some people that might feel kind of awesome. Less stress with walking through crowded halls and getting ready for the next class and getting the stink eye from that person you have had a grudge against since grade 4.


For other people it might not feel so great.


Either way, it’s what we have to work with for the next while.


So, at home you all have “roommates” right? Some of us live with family, some live with friends, or others. Well, hopefully you do and if you live alone you should like let us know...


So yeah! You live with someone else that you have to see every day - whether you are having a good day or a horrible, rotten day.


You can think of the people in your class right now as your new roommates and team mates.





There’s this thing that happens when people form groups with each other. It’s a process that happens and it’s totally normal, but I thought I’d warn you so you’re more prepared. There are four stages to this process, so I’ll explain them in order. Also, there is no exact time frame for how long each stage is, so you will just have to feel it out as you go, and know that wherever you’re at, it’s okay.


STAGE 1: Forming. This is the stage you are all at right now. It’s kind of a nervous, exciting time because it’s a new situation, even if you already know some of the people in the room. You are figuring out who is in your class and what everyone is like. Everyone is trying to figure out their own place and role that they play in the group. This can cause feelings of excitement or anxiety for a lot of people. Totally normal. Good stuff. Just coming together and forming your new crew. If you’re feeling anxious and need some help coping there are a lot of different things you can do, but start with taking some deep breaths, unclenching your jaw, relaxing your shoulders, and knowing that what you are feeling is totally okay and it won’t last forever.



STAGE 2: STORMING. Yes, storming. This is the second stage that happens in groups. This is why I wanted to tell you, because this stage can be hard and it can suck!

So, in this stage people start to get annoyed and frustrated with each other. WHY? Because in the forming stage you created ideas of who you thought each other were and those ideas were dreamy but they were just a guess and guess what? You were wrong.

Even if you already know some of the people in your class, everyone acts a little different in different groups. Like, have you ever noticed that you might act all wild when you're around one friend but then super calm and quiet around a different friend? That happens in groups too.

Also, your nervous excitement is gone and you realize that yes, you really are stuck with these humans for the next while.

So, everyone can get super irritable in the storming phase. But this phase is where you are figuring out how to work with each other. How to interact and be more comfortable with each other. If someone is really irritating you, try to talk to them about it in a calm way that explains how YOU FEEL, not just saying “hey you’re annoying” but something like “hey, it makes me anxious when there are a lot of different noises, and I know you didn’t mean to bug me or anything, but would you talk a bit quieter?” I know, it’s so awkward to say stuff like that. We are all feeling weird right now and we have to realize that we aren’t purposefully annoying each other, but it will happen and we are allowed to ask for what we need. You can always talk to your teacher or me if you need help with this.



STAGE 3: Norming. So, once you have a better understanding of what the people in your class need to be happy and they understand what you need, you can start resolving the conflict. You gotta be flexible and try to put yourself in other people’s shoes in this stage. Always think “If that was me, how would I feel?” Like, if you see a person who is usually shy and they have to talk in front of the class try thinking “Okay, if I was feeling like that what would make it easier? Would it be easier if my classmates were like “you got this” and then cheered me on even if I messed up? Would it be harder if my classmates laughed if I messed up?”

You know, be empathetic towards your new crew because, whether you like it or not, you’re a little family now! There’s always some weird ones and some loud ones and some emotional ones in the family. But no matter what you have to have each other’s backs and work through stuff.



WHICH LEADS TO STAGE 4: Performing! This is obviously the best stage. This is the point where you have figured each other out and have learned how to work with each other. If problems come up you know how to get through them. It’s the point where you now feel like you’re connected and even friends with people that you never thought you would make friends with. Think of your classroom as like, all the people you are with during the zombie apocalypse. Each person contributes something, and even though you didn’t choose to be with each other, you come to have mad respect for everyone once you get to know them.

We are in a pandemic and no one really knows how to act. If someone does something weird, blame it on the pandemic and move on. The best part is we are all in this together.


If you need someone to talk to or vent to, I’m here every second day. Send me an email

roberta.van.norman@epsb.ca if you want to book a time to chat.

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