Tags: Classroom Teacher | School Leadership & Management | Teaching & Learning Coordinator | Teaching and Learning

Philippa Bogel explores the transformational practices surrounding The Certificate of Facilitation Skills in Education, and looks at what facilitators gain from their experiences

Let’s face it. All of us can be cynical about claims of ‘products’ or ‘new-fangled things’. However, the power of facilitation – which is not coaching,counselling or mentoring – continues to give practitioners untold levels of knowledge, realisation and energy that is unsurpassed by any other tool that schools use to leverage change and confidence. To facilitate is to free from difficulties or obstacles or to make something easy or easier. This can in turn increase motivation, commitment, confidence and productivity and also create a better climate for change.

Talk to any of those who are already qualified school facilitators and they will tell you eagerly about the beginning of their conversion – how they were unsure of what it was all about, could not envisage being able to manage such a ‘responsible’ role or how they were volunteered by someone else and found themselves not quite knowing what they were being signed up for!

‘This is the most exciting thing I’ve ever learnt – I can’t believe how powerful it is! I just can’t believe I’ve tapped into such a rich vein – even things that have been frustrating for ages make more sense now. And I’m the facilitator, not even the person being facilitated!’ said Tony, head of English.

Such remarks are not unusual where new facilitators are concerned. What seems to be a simple but structured one-to-one discussion, belies the fact that when a skilled facilitator practices the art, extraordinary things happen for both parties. There are also huge rewards and benefits for both facilitators and for the school as a whole.

Facilitator input – Listening, commitment, seeing and hearing others as they see themselves, offering challenge and links.

Facilitator ‘personal absorption’ – Deep learning and confidence, insights for change, knowing how to perceive/do things differently.

There is a common experience of the facilitation process that people have come to call the filter. It seems that as facilitators offer their time and skills and work with their partner (the facilitee), dual learning takes place.

For every facilitator there seems to be an abundance of things to gain from learning facilitation skills and applying them. The list is in constant fluctuation.

What about the basic skills and qualification?

Facilitators learn world-class techniques that, although focused on adults, can be taken into the classroom. They include how to:

  • challenge perceptions and build options
  • enable individuals to see the root of a problem
  • use deep questioning for problem-solving
  • make links to new behaviours
  • rotate views and values for exploring new avenues
  • stimulate and motivate, where morale and esteem is at rock bottom
  • leverage transformational change in terms of behaviour
  • give others confidence that they lack.

The Certificate of Facilitation Skills in Education is an internationally recognised award, endorsed by the Institute of Leadership and Management1. It is also transportable in terms of a teaching and a non-teaching career in school, at any level.

Information and further reading

  • Christine Hogan, Practical Facilitation: A Toolkit of Techniques, ISBN 0749438274
  • John Heron, The Complete Facilitator’s Handbook, ISBN 0749427981.

If you are reading this and are not yet part of the growing group of qualified facilitators in schools, take a step towards a motivating future and find out what facilitation can do to transform yourself and your school. Help your colleagues discover their own strengths and solutions. The learning is genuine and lasting and will empower people to improve performance as a result of their own desires and endeavours. TEX

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