Facilitation Must-Haves

In a previous blog, Andrew Kelly had me thinking about how I could tweak presentations with some simple suggestions.  See Presentation Must-Haves for those ideas and reminders.  He has summarized some key tips to make presentations great and suggests Google Slides as one alternative.

Not too long after that, I attended a workshop entitled “A Fresh Look at Grading and Reporting in High Schools”  Although the workshop content was great learning in itself, I was more inspired by how the ‘presenters’ (Sandra Herbst and Krista Sarmatiuk) facilitated the learning for the day.  So, maybe I’ll call this one “Facilitation Must-Haves”

Here is a bit of what I learned or was reminded of that day.

  1. Before the workshop even started, people were milling in.  Sandra personally made a connection with every participant in the room.  Individually, she asked each person his or her name and introduced herself in return.  As Superintendent of her board, she believes that names are powerful…each child should hear his or her name several times a day.  She encourages her teachers (and models it herself in meetings and working with classes) to actively mention each child’s name at least once in the first hour of the day or class.
  2. She did not share a powerpoint or slide deck with the audience.  She said that would represent her learning…not ‘our’ learning.  Although we had a general target or direction for the day, she wasn’t entirely sure where would drive the learning within the room.  She did share the slide deck at the end of the day representing what we had collectively learned during the day.  What we received was very customized to what we had talked about.
  3. She created a backchannel.  Recognizing the different learning styles of the people in the room not to mention the sheer size of the audience, a backchannel was created to elicit questions from the audience.  In addition to conversations in the room, that became the direction for how the learning and therefore the presentation was to unfold for the day.  She checked in frequently to see what questions were evolving and to see what conversations were happening among participants.  We used  Today’s Meet which is fantastic since it creates easy URL’s and no account are required. It is a Twitter like option (microblogging platform allowing only 140 characters) that is more private and allows the creator to set time limits.  Google Slides (Q&A), Docs or Forms, Padlet and many other platforms could do the trick too.
  4. Finally, she let the learning drive the slides rather than the slides driving the learning.  Using the Notabilty app, she was able to have a selection of slides, sites, pictures, documents, and videos available and choose the best fit for that moment. By making simple annotations of the pages/slides, it focused the learning to the questions that being asked. 

Whether a classroom setting or a group of adult learners, I was reminded of some great ways to create an environment of learning by using the ‘room’ to build the learning together.  Sometimes it’s the simple reminders that get us back to the basics.


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