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Facilitator life

The (Un) planned life of a facilitator

I have been a facilitator of learning programs, both accredited and non-accredited, for many years but this doesn’t alleviate the dilemma of:

‘ What changes to the delivery of the planned program do I need to make to meet all the learners needs???’

This dilemma is always faced after meeting the group of participants. You can never really know what experience level is going to be sitting in the room when you commence the course. Some participants opt out at the last minute and others are recruited by the organisation to fill the space.

It doesn’t matter how many questions you ask about the:

  • complexity of the material
  • experience of the participants

you are very rarely able to truly know what is required.

This is especially true when you first work with an organisation and when you travel. Over the years I have experienced so many different situations; some funny, some stressful, some annoying, some frustrating. As a facilitator you just get on with the job no matter what. The learners / participants are the priority. By just showing up they have committed to learn so it is your role to ensure that every person in the room goes away with some new skills and knowledge, which they can then choose to implement in their own workplace.

Arrival at the allocated venue is the first unknown. Will everything be available as promised: the laptop, the data projector, speakers so you have sound for all the clips you have planned to show. When not traveling I always take everything with me. This includes all the technology and all of the printing.

When you travel it is a different story! You have to rely on the person or people who are organising the training to ensure that everything you require is provided.

Then we get to the learning program. As the morning progresses experience tells you that the material you have prepared may not provide everyone with skills and knowledge they require to build on what they already know. That first day you find yourself digging into your ‘bag of tricks’ to ensure you meet each participants’ needs.

If the program / course is being delivered over 2/3 days then that night you go back to your room, go for a run, have a bite to eat and then sit down to revamp the next few days of delivery. In fact, you end up doing this every night, as I believe that a high level facilitator will always come away from the day reflecting on:

  • how could I have done that better?
  • what needs to change to ensure all participants needs are met?
  • what activities can I include that will help everyone link the learning to their job role?

As you get to know the participants better you are able to make decisions about the program more readily.

Being a facilitator is about building relationships with your learners. As this relationship develops you develop a deeper understanding of their learning needs and this then feeds into what you deliver.

Experience has allowed me to deal with any curve ball that is thrown at me. I still remember though, those early years when in my eyes things didn’t go to plan and I felt like running away and never stepping up to that ‘facilitator platform’ again. I just took a deep breathe and jumped straight back in there as my passion for life long learning pushed me to do. I passionately wanted to make a difference to every learner I worked with and so my life’s journey was mapped out for me.

No matter how much experience I have though, I always face the dilemma of meeting every learners’ needs in every group I deliver to and I don’t believe that will ever change.

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