Facilitation and Story Time

Story TimeI confess. I’m a children’s librarian. I love kids. I love how I get to be a kid around them. Although we played a lot of games, our trainings were all about adults! So I wasn’t sure how learning about facilitation would help me do my current job.

I used to think that my story times were successful simply because I experienced joy working with children. Children also seemed to like working with me. Yes, that’s part of it. Authenticity and passion are part of what enlivens any personal interaction and draws people into a relationship circle. Since I can’t teach someone to like kids, I felt hopeless trying to teach someone how to create a successful story time.

Enter facilitation! I discovered I unknowingly use facilitation skills ALL the time with kids. I now have names for some of the skills and tools that are in play when I’m interacting with children and their caregivers during structured events.

  • Listen
  • “Yes, and…”
  • Everything is an offer
  • Support your partner

These four statements remind me what is necessary to keep a story time (or any event) flowing; ease the anxiety of a first time participant or new parent; give kids a sense of confidence and accomplishment ; AND make a story time FUN for everyone. If I want kids to continue exploring language, books, and reading, I need to provide opportunities to interact in ways that are enjoyable, educational, promote their sense of wonder, and allow them to engage their curiosity. Facilitation techniques frame the space where I create those opportunities. Now I can describe at least part of what I do to make a story time successful that goes beyond, “I love kids!”

As a new supervisor, I was blessed with having two employees at different locations who were also FIT Team colleagues. Utilizing the skills and common vocabulary from those trainings, I felt equipped to enter into dialogue about complications, frustrations, and creativity with these two dynamic coworkers. The FIT Team gave all three of us more confidence to try new things, evaluate the experiences, make tweaks, and enjoy what came out of taking risks because we had each other’s backs. As a supervisor, I want those I’m responsible for to feel supported, nurtured, and challenged to grow. With the FIT Team training as a backdrop, there was a common framework to work within. The challenge for me moving forward is to create that same structure for my employees without their experience of attending FIT Team training.

On a personal level, FIT Team training is one of about five times in my life where I entered a job or learning experience feeling excited and relatively confident in my abilities about that job or training. Like those other times, I am ending the experience feeling doubtful and insecure about my abilities to do the job. Why? I wish I knew. Intellectually, I know that more training should increase one’s sense of confidence in an area. I’m learning that I am wired differently. I don’t yet know where to go with this new insight. But everything is an opportunity!

Posted by Nancy Chmiel, Facilitator-in-Training

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