Poignantly aware that the foundations need to be solidly in place from the outset, the Saskatchewan Professional Development Unit is making sure that the recently created Facilitator Series equips would-be facilitators and professional learning leaders from different schools and school divisions with the tools that are needed in taking on such a role.
“Our hope is that through this professional facilitator community there is an understanding and an overall awareness when it comes to teachers working with colleagues. Teachers’ time is so valuable we can’t waste it, and so we want to make sure every member of the provincial facilitator community has skills to do this. Professional learning should be empowering and our hope is participants walk away from this empowered and understanding their role when it comes to working with adult learners,” indicated Terry Johanson, SPDU Director.
Following on the heels of the Pathways to Learning initiative, this is another example of Saskatchewan teachers being placed in the forefront of their own professional development.
The one-day session (there are five workshops in the Facilitator Series that can be accessed as ongoing or as stand-alone opportunities) featured the circle of courage, which outlines the norms of the provincial facilitator community that include generosity, belonging, independence and mastery. Overall, Johanson indicated one of the key components is making sure professional learning is seen as being a safe place for the participants, and that includes much-needed flexibility depending on how the day unfolds and how the participants respond.
One of those who was particularly enamoured with the often very personal sharing approach was Ryan LeBlanc from E.D. Feehan Catholic High School in Saskatoon.
“As much as we regularly engage with students, this is exploring working with colleagues and that’s what learning is really about. I really appreciated some of the insights today and the facilitator was great in helping light the spark. I think the structure of these workshops allows us to understand the strengths we each bring to the facilitator community. It was empowering.
“This was not only valuable to me personally, but to the teaching profession in general and it’s that structure that allows those strengths to be transferred so effectively.”
According to Johanson it is important to create a combination of pragmatism while also making sure to build in time for reflection.
“The whole day is built around the mindset of the facilitator as a partner in learning. We all learn from one another and in many ways there’s no difference between the experts and the expertise we bring,” she said, including herself. “It’s important to create space to problem solve and along the way you’re constantly assessing your participants mindful that you might need to move off that path and make sure to bring out their own passion.”
For a more complete story on the facilitator series check out the February 11 edition of the Saskatchewan Bulletin.