• Jason So

Shifting gears from student to facilitator

After graduating from Happyer Learn's Experience Design Course, I was invited to help facilitate the following cohort, which was to start just 2 weeks later. At first I was a little skeptical - how can I facilitate without any relevant work experience? Am I even qualified? How would my opinion offer value to the new students? Imposter syndrome kicked in, but the instructor, Michael, and other facilitators convinced me that we were there to provide guidance, not answers.

Here is what I've learnt throughout the last few weeks:

  1. To be an effective facilitator, being impartial and neutral is very important. I had to make sure I wasn't involved in the student's discussion to the point where I was giving them answers, or giving them my input on a solution. My job is to guide them and nudge them in the correct general direction, but letting them make their own way.

  2. Use less jargon - or be mindful and explain them as they are used. A good way I realized I could explain things well is to use real life examples or analogies. Furthermore, if I know a group has a certain interest or knowledge, and if I knew enough about it too, I could use that as an example to explain something on the course.

  3. Be passive first. Being a facilitator involves sitting back and observing first, listening to each party and looking at how each student learns - some might be more visual, some might be more kinesthetic.

  4. Facilitators can use different facilitating 'hats' according to a students needs. I found that some groups are more motivated, are proactive in working things out and likes voicing their ideas, facilitators could perhaps take on a role of an 'interpreter' to provoke deeper thinking, ask to elaborate things further and work alongside them. If a group is observed to be a bit more reserved, less motivated, a facilitator could take on a role of a 'driver' to move things forward and perhaps delegate roles and push the group to make decisions.

  5. Energy is infectious. Entering the class after a long day of work is draining, but if I introduce some energy, like speaking with a more varied tone, it creates a feedback loop - the students feel more energized and respond better, which in turn makes myself more lively as well.

The other facilitators I worked with helped me a lot with understanding the role. They helped me realize that we should first gain trust and have a good relationship with the students, therefore gaining a better insight on the group dynamics within the class, therefore allowing us to encourage better working relationships.

Overall, I am learning a lot as a facilitator, so maybe it is not so different from a student after all, it is just a different way of learning. In the next few weeks, the students will be working on their client projects. I am looking forward to what they can do, and how I can help facilitate them on the way!