PLIX Facilitation Techniques: input welcomed

We’re revisiting the facilitation techniques and welcome input from all of you! Please share your ideas by commenting below.

  • What should / shouldn’t change?
  • What’s missing?
  • Do any need to be broken up into two or three tips?
  • What would you share with other librarians as you introduce them to creative learning?

The existing techniques and the intro are on our site here:

Here are our working blurbs. We added one (at the top for now!)

:star: NEW :dolphin: Model curiosity and fearlessness.

Learn alongside the learners; once your patrons are up and running, take a stab at the activity yourself. In this role, you can not only model curiosity, but also invite patrons for their input. Ask questions out loud as you have them. Show that you have weak spots too, but they don’t get in your way. Embrace your mistakes. Creative learning can be messy. Go ahead and follow your patrons’ lead. Ask for guidance and input from them. And when something doesn’t turn out quite right, take it in stride.

:cyclone: Frame prompts to open up possibilities.

Great activity prompts leave room for and inspire patrons to bring in their own passions and playfulness. Invite patrons’ ideas with open framing that encourages creativity, but not so open that they don’t know where to begin. A theme like “enchanted garden” works well because it doesn’t define an end product like “make a frog.” Always look for ways to widen the walls, lower the floor, and raise the ceiling on the range of what’s possible.

:art: Show(case), don’t tell.

Feature a variety of approaches with example projects that provide a range of jumping-off points. Keep them readily available to inspire patrons to tinker with their own ideas. The best examples—both thoughtfully incomplete and not too complex—can also help with troubleshooting and questions. If anyone’s stuck, refer them to your example or a peer’s project. Avoid using step-by-step instructions. If you must use directions, highlight points where patrons can make their project uniquely their own.

:mountain: Enjoy the path and the peak.

Celebrate the process, not just the finished product. Reflect on how things are going via check-ins and share-outs with your patrons. When checking in, you may find a patron who is stuck: ask them clarifying questions about their ideas or process and give suggestions instead of directions. Allow for multiple pathways into and out of the activity.

:dancing_women: Encourage peer learning.

Ask patrons to team up to help one another. This fosters a culture of support, alleviates some of the pressure on the facilitator, and opens opportunities for collaboration. Besides, teaching someone else is a great way to deepen one’s own learning. Ask patrons to work with you and help you figure something out to model what this looks like in practice.

:hammer_and_pick: Don’t touch the tools!

When a patron asks for help, let them maintain control of their project, materials, and tools. Instead of grabbing the tools yourself, ask questions or suggest possible next steps for the patron to implement themselves. If you do need to get your hands on their project to explain something, make sure to have the patron try that step again on their own.

:cherry_blossom: Use friendly language.

Welcome your patrons with easy, approachable word choices. Essential technical terms can be introduced gently, in a familiar context. Have relevant books and other resources readily available to curious participants who want to dive deeper.

:basketball: Give yourself time to grow.

Remember: Facilitation is a practice. Becoming a creative learning facilitator will be a continuous process of trying, reflecting, and iterating. Don’t stress about being “good at it” right away. Try to spend at least 10 minutes for self-reflection after each workshop you facilitate.

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If people want to get in on the doc in flux, there’s the link.

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This week I had my Chicago team participate in the PLIX@Macon satellite’s workshop.

Our maker lab manager said something really insightful that I’m compelled to share. We ran through the persona exercise, and we talked a little about how you try to read the room and determine if people need help, and that sometimes asking directly if someone needs help doesn’t yield an answer. But modeling curiosity and confidence (I think fearlessness was adapted to confidence) cuts through the dance of question and answer.

After the lab manager said this, I talked through the steps and thinking that went into my paper circuit. Then I asked someone else to tell me what their process was, and they immediately started describing it. It felt like the principle in action! So remembering to model the behaviors that are welcome/encouraged, as well as encouraging people generally, is so important.

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love how you explained this @SashaN. That is the one which stands out most for me also. when we made our mantra cards I even changed the word ‘model’ to ‘radiate’ just to help me personally connect more deeply with it, and feel this as something from within me that I’m expressing authentically also :sun_with_face: