Today marked the first mini-lesson cycle for this year’s EOSC 516 class. Having not facilitated for eight months, I was definitely nervous but looking forward to it. During today’s session, I navigated through some new and interesting experiences, described below….
Situation 1: For a brief period, I had an emotional participant that I would have to keep on task and on time.
Throughout the session this participant seemed quite disengaged. As we neared the time to give her first-ever mini-lesson, she could barely bring herself to listen or give feedback. Once we entered the ten-minute set-up period for her lesson, the participant looked like she was going to shut down completely – she held her head in her hands and was doing absolutely nothing to prepare. I decided to ask if she wanted to head out into the hall for a minute to “start getting ready there”; I was expecting that once we got into the hall, she would need some comfort, reassurance, and re-motivation. Despite my diagnosis, the situation didn’t evolve. Instead, she immediately jumped up after my request and started getting her stuff ready for her mini-lesson…and I watched her pull herself through her anxiety over the next few minutes. It was relieving that I didn’t have to deal with such a situation, though I felt as ready as I could be for the situation.
Situation 2: I facilitated a facilitator.
Due to a scheduling conflict, I facilitated alone for the first hour of the four-hour session, after which my fellow TA was able to join the group. By the time he arrived, I was near-finished facilitating the first mini-lesson cycle of the day. Given the maximally time-budgeted nature of the session, there was no time to take a break and update my co-facilitator on what I had managed, detail the timing issues of the day, and other important details: as soon as I finished one mini-lesson cycle, he jumped into leading the next one! Because of his quick transformation into a facilitator role (not to mention his first experience facilitating since his training), I felt like I had to facilitate his transition and comfort for a short time, while he was facilitating the lesson set-up of one of our participants! It was an interesting situation I did not expect to occur. As we debriefed later, I mentioned to him that I felt we had gone through this transition together. Interestingly, he didn’t notice my facilitating him at all, which I consider a success. I think invisibility can be a great facilitating tool sometimes, namely when the participants are working through their own group process.