I recently wrote the following feedback for an online facilitator trainee for the Respectful Relationships (R+R) Program. This summer my co-trainer, Kevin Vowles and I are coaching seven new folks in facilitator online training so they can deliver the R+R program in other parts of the province!
As a trainer for the past 6 years and as a classroom facilitator for the past 9, the skills outlined below moves from our circles with youth in schools out into the world as a tangible Social and Emotion Learning life skill.
I am speaking about the intimate and engaging, the vulnerable and skill building “Check In”. Check Ins are something we do at SWOVA as a foundational piece of violence prevention work. I encourage it for parents and kids, for partners and friends, and for co-workers DAILY. Over the years, we have added a 5-minute mindfulness practice with youth- and they love it. Here is my response to the trainee’s understanding of the facilitator check-in as a human “doing” activity of preparing for the session rather than a “human being” opportunity to grow intimacy, compassion and understanding.
Please note- your facilitator check in each day prior to class is NOT for preparing for the session. This prep. should be done in a weekly team meeting. If you deliver 4 sessions in a week- plan on 2-4 hours of mpersonal prep. and 2-3 hours of co-facilitation prep. The Check In prior to the R+R session goes like this-
Each person has 3-5 minutes (or longer if needed) to do a personal check in with the group while sitting in a quiet, uninterrupted space. The Facilitation team sits quietly as witness- asking no questions and not interrupting. (they are practicing and modelling a core SEL skill in the R+R Program- reflective listening)
The Female Facilitator checks in as follows after becoming quiet and tuning into her deeper feelings: ( this is an example of one possible check in scenario- depending on the day/person it will vary!)
” I’m feeling anxious and frustrated this morning. My partner and I had an argument last night about who is responsible for groceries tonight. We didn’t resolve it. I am excited to facilitate the second activity around gender stereotypes and I’m hoping that as my ally you will address young men’s sexism if it comes up. I would appreciate that. (Male Facilitator does not reply) I am going to be aware of John, the student who left the class yesterday, I want to check in with him after the session- I was uncomfortable yesterday when he left without checking in. Should we do that together? Thanks for listening to my check in. I’m complete.”
The Check In is VERY, VERY important for a co-facilitation team. If all you do is go over workshop details- no intimacy comes into the circle with youth that is to follow or gets fostered as a co-facilitation team. This happens in marriages all the time- people stop revealing vulnerability and listening to each other with compassion as a daily practice. Violence happens in a culture of ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’. Your relationship as co-facilitators is modelling so much to youth about relationships between men and women- two people sharing leadership and adults as mentors. Really this is a piece of gold that I am certain of after a decade.”
Thank you to each of you who reads our BLOGs at SWOVA. I offer the Check In to you from the warmth and beauty of Jamaica, May you have the opportunity to practice it with your own children, your spouse, a brother or sister, mother or father. Within it lies the strong roots of family and community health and well- being.
by Christina Antonick, R+R Trainer