What Is Facilitation?

In this section of the starter kit, we’ll take an in-depth look at the role of Agile Learning Facilitators (ALFs) at ALCs. Every ALF will have a different relationship with facilitation; just as ALCs are not one-size-fits-all, there isn’t one right way to facilitate learning for all of the varied, brilliant, creative humans that will populate your space.

The choice not to call ourselves teachers is a deliberate one; while we may sometimes provide direct instruction, facilitation is something you do with a group, not to it. The root of the word facilitator is “facilis,” the Latin word for “easy”; a facilitator is a person who provides unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision that makes it easier for students to self-direct their learning. Facilitation is the daily practice of being reflective, adaptable, empathetic, and honest. It’s helping children articulate the concepts and feelings they are already grappling with: an explanation of the water cycle because it’s raining, or offering the word “overwhelmed” to a kid who’s having a rough day and struggling against the urge to hit someone. Facilitation is playing with tools of the culture and the question “why?”. Facilitation is playing tag in the hallway. Facilitation is developing the ability to tell the difference between and shriek of joy and a shriek of distress from several rooms away; it’s holding space for children to work through tricky tasks or emotional conversations with your support while resisting the urge to jump in and just do it for them. Facilitation is messy. Facilitation is structured externalized reflection and abrupt unstructured revelation.

If that all seems like a lot, don’t worry. The practice of facilitation is just that - a practice - and there is no better way to master it than to be in a space with children. Our intention for this guide is to provide the theoretical and practical framework which structures our own practices so you can orient yourself in that space. To be agile means to be reflective, resourceful, and adaptable. Your primary role as an ALF will be to model these characteristics as you use our tools and practices to support students in building a safe, accepting community where they can self-direct their learning.

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