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  • Vignesh Prasad

Conversations as Keys to Reinvigorating Facilitator Engagement

Over the past few years we just haven't been able to build a consistent routine of facilitator meetings. We have tried lots of different things to make the meetings interesting and though the facilitators were enjoying the meetings and found value in them we were still not seeing consistent participation. We also deviated from our values out of sheer frustration and spoke to facilitators strictly and made expectations very clear. While the next meeting had participation the effects of this did not last long.


Finally, we thought it's probably best to have a heart to heart conversation on why they were unable to attend the meetings. We had always done this in a group during the meetings itself but this time we did this privately in a more casual setting. Post the centre over a quick tea we spoke to the facilitators on the challenges they were facing in attending the meetings. We learnt that the main issue was actually the lack of freedom for a lot of facilitators. For some family compulsions would play a role and for another work pressure was the main challenge.


There felt like very little we could do about this situation. There seemed to be no good options. We wanted to support the facilitators and empathise with them but at the same time also ensure we could function effectively. The past month I recently read through "Community' by Peter Block and the idea of asking the right questions and starting the conversations being the keys to transformation really stuck with me. Perhaps we could use this approach to create a change.


In the next meeting we did a reflection on the various aspects of being a facilitator. We did a spider diagram and evaluated ourselves on eight axes. The parameters included how much play happens at the centre, how much of a relationship the facilitators were able to build with the students etc. What we also included was how much we're able to challenge power structures and authority figures in our lives and in the communities. We also included how much we are able to support each other as a team. The idea was to acknowledge and recognise that this is part of the work that we do and to start the conversation on this. It's easy to get too caught up in the day to day and focus on only learning facilitation but it was important to reflect on our contributions to the organisation and also to society.


It remains to be seen how effective this would be in improving meeting participation but it was definitely heartening to see many facilitators share their stories on the unfair treatment that they often experience by those in power and authority and how it's limited them in a lot of ways.


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