As a cohort, all of LAS took LDR200L together every Wednesday night with Jesi Ekonnen and our three TAs, Garrett Ritterhaus, Kate Odykirk, and Jordan Salerno. This course was very student led, with the occasionally facilitation by Jesi and the TAs. We discussed several different leadership theories and their application in the real world. Within this course we also created our own leadership philosophy.
Of all the information presented in this course, one of the greatest lessons gained were on the skills of facilitation. I have always considered myself to be an effective speaker, but we spent a lot of time and focus on perfecting the skills of presenting and facilitating. These skills are beneficial as I continue my educational career and will continue to be important in my professional life.
To begin the growth of our facilitation abilities, we had define what the role of a facilitator is. I believe a facilitator is responsible for initiating an activity and a conversation which follows, but allows for the group to make their own interpretation of the experience.
No matter the situation or structure of the activity, facilitation plays a key role in finding value in the experiences. This is especially important when working with a group whose goal is leadership development and exploration. In LAS, we already identify as leaders and when in a facilitation setting, we are working on furthering our mindset and skills. But for those who do not already have this identification, facilitation activities challenge them to think in a way they never have before. The answers and conversations will not come naturally and may be awkward.
This awkwardness is something facilitators often are challenged with. In LDR200 we learned about riding out the silence and allowing time for participants to process their experiences and thoughts. A facilitator should initiate a conversation with questions but not guide the conversation unless absolutely necessary. It is crucial to remember that not every group or person will find the same message or lesson in the experience. But as long as something is gained through the discussion or activity, success has been accomplished. The questions asked during facilitation should go along with the flow of the conversation and not be forced to direct the participants to a set idea or answer. By allowing this free flow of conversation, facilitators create an environment that is a melting pot for innovative ideas and inspiration.
The beauty in this way of debriefing is that the facilitator is continually learning. The same activity can be preformed a multitude of times with a multitude of diverse people and each time will be a different outcome. In a broader sense, no two people will experience the world in the same way. By taking the time to have meaningful debriefs, we get the opportunity to be challenged by others, and gain a new perspective.
My learning experience in LDR200 has provided me with the skills to be more confident in my facilitation ability and create a better learning environment for others. As I take on more leadership roles, I have the ability to influence a broader amount of people. The lessons on facilitation have provided me with strategies and abilities to challenge participants in a positive way. I am enthusiastic about my greater ability to help others learn while building knowledge myself.