Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Art of Effective Facilitation: Training and Supporting Peer Facilitators

Chapter 12

Okay, Chapter twelve was pretty interesting. It talks about training and supporting peer leaders and facilitators. I didn't realize that so much usually goes into it. We've had minimal training here, and I think we've done a good job with it. The readings have been most of it. And then we're all supposed to blog two things we've learned from the readings. I generally blog most of what I've learned, with a summary. (I think that's because I'm generally a talkative person.) I can also consider my RAPP intensive as training, in a way. I don't remember everything from it, but I do remember some of it, and the mainstays. I remember the model we talked about, unconscious and conscious on one axis and individual, institutionalized, and societal/cultural on the other axis. I remember some of the rules, most importantly, no one's opinion has no value. Even the dominant narrative has value, because that is some people's lived experience.

I also wanted to talk about the feelings I feel about not being up to the challenge, as a white person. In the book, one of the things I really identified with was a student quote that said,

"The biggest challenges I faced in becoming a facilitator of social justice conversations as an undergraduate student were largely internal. I experienced a lack of confidence as a result of my own unrealistic interpretations of who I believed was qualified to facilitate. Due to the social privileges I experienced because of my identity, I felt I was unqualified for the role."

This was definitely something I thought about. I know I'm an extremely open minded person. I accept pretty much everyone as they are. But I wasn't sure I had the right perspective to facilitate social justice education with my dominant worldview. My antecedents aren't nearly as open minded. Both my grandparents on my dad's side and my dad himself were VERY prejudiced against black people. I don't understand their beliefs, and they didn't understand mine. I remember coming home from day camp at the age of four, confused as hell about why dark skin made a difference. (There was one little black girl in the group, and nobody wanted to partner her. I did, and enjoyed myself. She was funny. But we were both outcasts for that week. We had fun, but we were "outsiders" to the rest of the group.) My mom tried to explain that people fear what they don't understand, and she tried to explain to me why it makes a difference for some people. I've never understood it, and I don't now. After all, we're all human, so who cares what color a person is, or where they come from or what language they speak. Really, it's NOT that big of a deal. So why do people make such a big deal of it? (That's a theoretical question, because you probably understand it as much as I do.) I work with people from India and GB/England and Germany and the USA. All of those people are valuable to my team, and I know what value they have. Why on earth does it matter which part of the planet they were born in??? WHY? (Another rhetorical question.) But because I'm not marginalized in my racial identity, I was uncertain I had the skills to facilitate for social justice. (The weird thing is that several of my Big Eight are marginalized identities. Gender and Ability are the biggest ones, but I'm also marginalized in Socio-Economic Class. I think the rest of them are all dominant. And I have been discriminated against. Sometimes, even, here at UC. It was a memorable event for Brice and myself when, in a small group for our class, one of the men looked at me disparagingly and said, "So how did YOU get into IT?" (I don't think he liked it that I laughed at his prejudice, but I thought it was funny that he was so ignorant.) I did answer the question, and Brice and I were just amazed that he thought that was acceptable. Even with several occasions of being discriminated against, I still wonder if I'm "acceptable" as a facilitator for social justice education. So that really struck a chord with me.

It was interesting to see how much training some of the facilitators got. It seems that the book recommends substantial one on one training and support, and group support. We really don't get that here. I'm wondering if I really need to work on my skills in a group of facilitators. Maybe Brice, Ali, Tristen, and myself could get together with the peer leaders (Jacob, Shawnee, and Bridge) and do some facilitation practice with feedback coming on how we did facilitating and what we need to work on most in order to improve. It's a small group, but Tristen has plenty of experience, and Ali and I don't. Or, rather, I don't. He's been doing things with Brice during the week that I've not been able to do because of working. So I guess I'm the only one without a lot of experience. I want to do some work on this over the break, if I can, and see if that helps me become more... Confident, I guess. I need practice to really feel that I know what I'm doing, and two meetings really don’t do it. So we'll see how it all works out.

I think Brice has done a pretty good job with us though. It's hard for him since I'm co-oping cause I can't come in to the office when he's here, so we don't get much time together. It makes it hard for him to develop me and support me properly. I think things will go much better next semester when I'm in class and can be in the office more.

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