Facilitation Lessons from a First Grade Teacher

connectionMy daughter’s first grade teacher called me the day before school started. She was calling to remind me that the school’s open house was that evening. As we introduced ourselves, we talked about how she and my daughter share the same first name. During our conversation, we also discovered that they share the same middle name, same initials, and same birthday. When they finally met in person that evening, my daughter and her teacher were elated to meet the person with whom they share so much in common. When I dropped my little girl off on her first day at school the next morning, she comfortably greeted her teacher as if they had known one another for years. Continue reading

Preparing for the Great American Eclipse

Eclipse2

For some, August 21, 2017 is a big day. Many people have spent months preparing for the events of today. Today is first day in 38 years that the moon will completely block the sun from the view in many United States cities as well as partially block the sun in the majority of the rest of the states.

How we prepare for major events influence our experiences. Many people maybe simply aware of the celestial event occurring today, caring little more than to wander outside and check it out if prompted. More dedicated individuals have been planning vacations to be in a location that celebrates a full eclipse; they know the location of the totality, possess correct eyewear, and have researched total eclipse facts, i.e. it can only happen during a new moon, to get the most out of their experience. I am somewhere in between. I live in a place where we will see 93% coverage around 10:30 AM, and all of the news surrounding the eclipse has me moderately interested. Continue reading

“But he’s a heading west from the Cumberland Gap to Johnson City, Tennessee”

Map_Johnson_City_Cumberland_Gap

When I was in Birmingham, AL, last week, someone re-introduced me to Darius Rucker. I loved listening to his band, Hootie and the Blowfish, when I was in college, and I’d heard he’d “gone country” but I hadn’t kept up with his music.

The song Wagon Wheel was played for me. It was a catchy tune. I liked it. It sounded like it was about some guy hitchhiking, but I couldn’t quite figure out what all the lyrics meant, so I Googled the song. I found something very, very wrong…   Continue reading

Sometimes even the most powerful, seemingly stand-alone experiences need some facilitation.

I visited the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, last Wednesday.

16th_St_Baptist_Church

In the Lyft ride from the church to a business meeting, I was so overcome with emotion that I had to tell myself aloud: “Get it together, Washburn.” Twice.

Something happened in the 30 minutes between the time I started taking a few photos and the time I hopped into the Lyft that was a good reminder of the important role of a training facilitator during even the most powerful learning experiences.  Continue reading

After a training session, are your learners left to sink or swim? (Here’s a free form to help with post-training support)

Sink-or-Swim

I spent this past weekend at my daughter’s swim meet in Wenatchee, WA (which is the Apple Capital of the World!).

It was one of the first meets I’ve been able to attend. After her first race, I saw her grab her towel and walk toward where I was sitting in the bleachers. I wasn’t sure she knew exactly where I was sitting, so I stood up and made my way toward the pool deck. Then she stopped. It dawned on me she wasn’t walking to meet me.

What she did is what every person who attends a training program or professional development session should be doing.   Continue reading

The case for sticky notes in every training presentation

sticky-notes

I’ve been facilitating a series of 3-day train-the-trainer sessions in Uganda and Zambia over the past two weeks, working with groups of health educators to help them transform their presentation delivery from a traditional, didactic approach to a more learner-centered, interactive delivery.

On the first day, as I facilitated a variety of activities around adult learning theory and engagement strategies, the energy in the room seemed high. I asked participants to take a sticky note and write one word or phrase about how they were feeling after the first day. Responses such as “enjoyable”, “gaining a lot”, “awesome” and “this training is perfect” were submitted to me.

A funny thing happened on the second day. Continue reading