Sessions wrap up!
If a facilitator follows the Kolb's experiential learning cycle, setting SMART objectives for a session, this is the time to ensure that a group has completed the session. By doing so, one of many methods is debriefing.
Debriefing is a process of strategically examining and analyzing what happened after the completion of an event or activity. It also helps a facilitator to exam if the objectives of the session have been achieved.
There are important factors that a facilitator needs to evaluate to plan a debriefing or to adjust a planned debriefing during the moment it takes place.
Group development and group size
Before or during the session, try to observe and determine the group stage of cohesiveness, trust, openness, confidences, and mood. These factors can help a facilitator plan a list of questions, moment of debriefing, and technique. Moreover, group size should also be taken in account. If it´s a big group, divide them into a small group for discussion and bring them together in a big group. This way, you will give a chance to group members to speak and prevent exceeding the time.
Think of how much time we want to spend with a debriefing and when it should take place according to our plan of activity. Given enough time for a debriefing and control the time of the previous activity because during debriefing is when an individual learning the most. However, a facilitator should be aware of group energy and mood, if the group is too tired it will be difficult to for individuals to gain the most out of the debriefing.
A location also has impact on the participation of the group in a debriefing; it can help or prevent the flow of the debriefing. Think of the place that a group feels comfortable, save, and away from distraction.
Type of activities.
Think about the activities that take place before the debriefing and consider how dynamic, relaxing, creative, serious, or fun the discussion part should be.
Evaluate the activities that take place before the debriefing and think about the activities that should follow it. This is important for forming effective debriefing questions to help the participants make their experience meaningful.
As the last paragraph mention about debriefing questions, in fact, a debriefing usually start by a facilitator throwing powerful questions to the group. Those questions are planned and follow a certain structure. One of the most known models is the 4F debrief designed by Dr Roger Greenaway, an expert on training teachers and facilitators. This debriefing method provide a flow and direction to an experiential learning conversation.
The model contains of 4 aspects to understand the group learning from the activities: Facts, Feelings. Findings, and Future.
Facts: An objective account of what happened.
What happened during the activity?
What did you notice within the group during the activity?
How the behavior/strategy/ was created?
Feelings: The emotional reactions to the situation.
How did you feel after the activity?
How that feeling influent your actions and reactions during the experience?
Can you connect you feeling which what happened?
Findings: The concrete learning that you can take away from the situation.
What did you find about yourself or topic during the experience?
Did you discover any interesting things from this activity?
What did you learn from your role/group in this activity?
Future: Structuring your learning such that you can use it in the future.
What can be improved next time?
How would you solve this situation in a similar experience?
How can you use this finding in your personal or professional life?
In general, the flow starts as the sequence as mentioned above. However, a facilitator can at any point but follow the sequence.
Of course, to launch a debriefing is not only asking questions, but another area to master is also to facilitate the discussion. As mentions in previous article about facilitation skills, a facilitator should provide opportunity to all members as equal as possible as well as maintain the objectives and needs of the groups. In this case, there are some facilitation techniques can be your in discussion.
Paraphrasing: To say the information from the group in your own word without changing the meaning. This technique is useful to check if you understand the information correctly.
Summarizing: To be used when you want to end a previous discussion and open a new one or when the idea is too complex, so you want to make sum up as simple as possible for everyone.
Mirror: To ask for explanation and or encourage the speaker to continue talking.
Link idea: Look for the connection within the ideas. Sometimes some ideas seem different on the surface or can cause confusion. This is necessary for everyone to understand and see the connection.
Tracking: Often it is when a person says something and we find it interesting, we can bring this topic to the group and ask the others. this topic to the group and ask others. Setting an example: about the abstract idea so that everyone understands.
Intentional silence: the hardest thing for facilitators. We consider that silence can mean many things (thinking time, being bored, or hesitant). Silence is generally uncomfortable for facilitators but also for the group. So, be patient and wait for the group to continue.
Redirect the question: If a facilitator is asked for an opinion or answers, it is not necessary to answer. In fact, it might be better not to answer because you can influent the group, so to redirect such question to the group is another useful technique.
Crowded: everyone has the right to speak but if you speak at the same time no one can listen. The facilitator can make the order so that everyone can speak and listen.
Encouraging: being an active listen and give positive reaction to a speaker can encourage other member of the group to share their ideas. To encourage can simply be done by making eye contact, nod, or hum.
As we can see, to be a facilitator or to facilitate a group or individual, it requires practices and many soft skills. As same as the group, to be a facilitator simply start with yourself, improve self-awareness, observe people, and listen actively.