In training course in preparation for the ALA 170 classes, peer facilitators dive deeper into improving facilitation and leadership skills. Through group activities such as sessions for development and feedback in addition to bonding over snacks before class, our group of peer facilitators grow closer into a more effective team for the 2018 winter semester. For first time facilitators, it is essential that we learn from our peers and set goals to provide the best support we can to the incoming Leadership Lab students. For returning facilitators, this course provides an outlet to reflect on previous experiences and target specific areas of improvement. In the process of developing new skills, areas of weakness like public speaking are improved upon resulting in a chance to enhance professional development skills that will translate into other roles we may pursue in the future.
However, peer facilitator trainings are late in the evenings and for some of our peer facilitators, immediately follow class. This makes it difficult for facilitators to remain engaged. Providing facilitators with food during our meetings would help us stay focused and on task. Not only would it allow time to go by faster, but it would allow for team-building opportunities in a non-classroom format. Food would allow for informal bonding among facilitators and strengthen our ability to communicate and work with one another. Thus, to develop a stronger team dynamic, develop and fine-tune our skills, and to better lead the ALA 170 Leadership Lab course, we applied for the small grant in order to gain necessary funds to provide food for our trainings. With the use of this grant, we better developed bonds as a team over food, and better our skills to serve the BLI community.
Several BLI Habits were exercised during these training classes. Start where you are:
Within the ALA 170 Peer Facilitator trainings, each peer facilitator takes his or her different skill set to build up their facilitation skills. Although this is individually-focused, work within the trainings are group-based as well. Leadership seen personally and through teams optimizes building on each other’s strengths but also allows to challenge one another. Pause & Reflect: While practicing our facilitation skills, it is important for everyone to reflect privately on their progress of facilitation skills as well as checking in with their peer facilitator team to ensure that everyone is doing well to contribute to the team. Pause and reflect does not stop at the peer facilitator training though. This BLI habit is critical during the Leadership Labs as well since reflection is important to do throughout the course. Work to Learn: Working together as a team will really spark creativity throughout the peer facilitator team. It is a critical habit especially for peer facilitators as our input into our trainings reflect on the output we get in individual leadership development. The process of action, thought, and reflection would lead to an effective way to constantly check in on one’s strengths and things to be improved.
One challenge we did not expect was the need to filter for different kinds of snacks to accommodate to food allergies from the original snacks we planned for in our budget. However, after doing thorough research of nutritional facts and ingredients for our originally planned snacks, we were able to find food considering these allergies so that everyone got fed. Yet, it was rewarding when peer facilitators came into the trainings to find food waiting for them. It showed that everyone appreciated having a treat to enjoy during training.
By Jessica Selzer