As I begin my journey transforming from a reading teacher to a sexuality educator, I am both excited and terrified. As part of my practicum experience, I will have the opportunity to receive training through observation and co-facilitation. I feel an important part of learning is being able to learn from those who have more experience than I do. Co-facilitation is an excellent way for me to get experience as well as learn the ins and outs of the organization and their goals. Not only am I building a name for myself as a sexuality educator, I am also representing the organization. While I want to jump right in and begin teaching on my own, I know that training through co-facilitation is an important step on my journey to becoming a sexuality educator.
Co-facilitating can be a highly effective and advantageous method of delivering instruction. However, it can also be tricky navigating different teaching/presenting styles, boundaries and planning. Before my first co-facilitation experience, I checked out several articles and websites about co-facilitating, including an article by Kevin Eikenberry http://training-modules.com/contributions/team_teaching.asp and Everywoman's Center http://www.ecbo.me/facilitation-and-presentation-skills-and-tips. There are steps that can be taken to help co-facilitating run more smoothly.
I had a great experience co-facilitating recently at a presentation to a small group of college students. Before we began our lesson, everything had been completely planned and it was clear who was presenting which section. Going into the presentation, I had a good sense of how my co-facilitator typically presented information. My style is different than hers, so before introducing a different way of presenting, I shared my ideas about how I wanted to conduct my parts of the lesson. Good communication is needed for instruction and transitions to go easily. Not only should communication happen before the presentation, but it should happen during and after as well. There should be constant communication throughout the presentation. One recommendation is to create a signal before the presentation designed to get the others' attention. Sometimes during a presentation, while one facilitator is presenting, the other jumps in to say something, interrupting the flow of instruction. Another tip is to ask the other person if there is anything to add after completing instruction. This is essential before beginning co-facilitation because it sets rules and boundaries for each facilitator. By doing this, presenters can help each other and create a stronger lesson, rather than wok against each other.
Throughout the presentation, I stood to the side so that I was not a distraction to the students. Since there can be so many different distractions within any presentation, it is important that the co-facilitator does not add to them by rustling papers or standing visually in the way of the other presenter. I feel it would be unprofessional for me to have a side conversation or be an obvious distraction during my co-facilitator's presentation. Additionally, I was able to assist her when handouts needed to be distributed, which allowed her to continue teaching and presenting information. By assisting her, the presentation was able to flow well.
Every teacher has a different teaching personality and persona. I know that I will not be able to reach every member of the audience because not all personalities relate to one another. By co-facilitating, there are two personalities and styles that will hopefully reach more students. Not only that, but there are two "experts" to help answer questions and guide discussions. While having two different personalities can be difficult to navigate, with good communication, two teaching styles are implemented, which can help reach a variety of learners.
Since I feel as though I am still in the process of training, I found myself looking more to my co-facilitator rather than being certain of myself and my abilities. As Eikenberry pointed out, there is a higher level of comfort through co-facilitation. I think that is certainly true for me as a novice within sexuality education. My co-facilitator was fully supportive and encouraging of my presentation. When I studied education in undergraduate, there is an opportunity for student teaching; however, the experience felt isolated and not inclusive of the whole teaching experience. Co-facilitation allows me the opportunity to receive training, support and guidance before being independent in the field. I will be more fully equipped to handle situations when I am teaching on my own through this organization because of the training through co-facilitation. Co-facilitation can be a great way to train new employees and interns, as well as provide an effective way to conduct presentations.