Its been over 10 months since I attended the Art of Facilitation course with Joan Dalton & David Anderson. The high-quality professional learning opportunity has made a significant impact on my facilitation and teaching craft over the past several months. I would dearly love to attend another one. So for those of you haven't I urge you to email Mel Stopford to register for upcoming 2009 workshops.
So what changed?
- Intentions - Joan and David talk lots about 'purpose', Before organising anything with teachers I think about the purpose...J & D used the analogy of a parrot sitting on your shoulder asking "What's your purpose?" (I have the same little sticky they gave us at the course stuck to my whiteboard right next to my desk). Always asking myself "what's my purpose?" has really challenged me in some situations. Yes it would be cool to run a movie making workshop - but what's the purpose? Answer: To extend on their digital storytelling concept even further etc...I am continually having a conversation with myself when designing workshops and centre visits so that I am consciously checking the rationale and articulating my thoughts, consequently this then leads to me being able to justify why I do what I do. So with my intentions or purpose in check designing workshops to cater for teachers has been very worthwhile and rewarding.
- My actions match my beliefs - Confession time! When I first started this position as facilitator I was mostly absorbed by the 'seductive ICT'. Yep. It was all about the bling baby. J & D challenged us to think about our role as facilitators, what I realised over the week with them was that what I was actually doing was soothing my own ego. I liked having the answers and seducing teachers with the ICT. In reality this is perfect for shallow lifeless learning - not suitable for vibrant, deep, life-long learning. I was stuck in a "Guru Loop" (a term I learned from Julia Atkin), and I was the Guru not letting go of the loop". I believe that teachers should be life-long learners - my actions did not say that. So as a result, overnight I magically changed - NOT! I have continually worked hard over the past several months to stop being the answer machine, to work with teachers from where they are at, challenge, provoke, inspire and encourage them to take risks and learn through mistakes.
- Listening - The first thing that pops into my head is Beyonce's song - Listen. No seriously, Listen...so simple yet so complex. I'm not going to pretend that I was totally ignorant before this workshop but I certainly learned how to fine tune the little skill I had in listening - the activities based around paraphrasing, active listening and probing and clarifying were exactly what I needed to really get my head around the importance of truly listening to people. This led me on to further research into Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott (suggested reading by J & D). Great little journey with lots of though provoking and oh-my-goodness-I-so-do that moments, my journey will never be over and I'm learning so much on the way.
- 1%'ers - a huge mix of little 1%'ers that will complement purposeful workshops! My fav's are stickies, lightning round, quotes and remembering to greet people at the door (to some this may be common practice and many of these I have used previously but it its affirming to know that every little action counts - especially when you have a purpose...), personal information disclaimer - not that I ask for this much but it really does set the tone in the environment as safe. Ones that I am working on getting right are: sway the disequilibrium - change the environment or seating position after lunch to kind of kick start the afternoon, the power of pause (seriously I am trying) and 1 was easy 5 was hard -want to try that hand game but haven't yet had the opportunity.
- Feedback - this one was instantly a hit on my return to work, I came back from this course to some work that required me to respond with my 'professional facilitator hat on', and instead of responding directly to the key points (as i might normally do) I took note of the Feedback notes that J&D had talked us through during the week. There are 3 types of providing feedback I used the second one for the written feedback I was providing but may use the first one when I am trying to encourage someone along.- Positive feedback: to appreciate and empower
- Constructive feedback: to help improve skills/practices
- Feedback to evaluate performance against standards, agreements or criteria
Overall, an amazing experience - one which I would highly reccommend to absolutely anybody who wants to take the lead in ensuring they contribute to an efficient, proactive and thoughtful environment - even though it is called Art of Facilitation it is totally relevant to teachers in early childhood and I have suggested several of our ECE ICT PL teachers attend as a way of extending them further. I hear some have enrolled or are on the waiting list.
And the best part for last - the website resource PLOT is a priceless tool that I use just about every day to support my planning of workshops, centre visits, meetings, conversations. Loads of well thought out plans, musings, suggested books and reading, links, theories all on one site. My absolute fav strategies to date 3,2,1; Final Word Strategy and the Placemat Process.
Thanks again Joan and David (J&D). Truly life-changing and inspiring.
If you want to find out more about things I have mentioned here be sure to enrol ASAP.