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Facilitation Guide
Facilitation Guide

Facilitation Guide

The Respectful Futures modules focus on helping youth to understand and form respectful relationships. The modules allow young people to bring their own thoughts and experiences to the program. In this way, they align with the BC curriculum's focus on personalized learning. The modules highlight the individual as s/he interacts with others. In addition, these modules were developed with the BC curriculum's core competencies in mind. The modules build capacity in positive communication, critical thinking, and personal and social identity. These core competencies run through all the courses and learning standards that form the K to 12 curriculums in BC.

Click here to download the Facilitation Guide PDF.

Facilitation Tips

The Facilitation Guide provides useful information related to Respectful Futures as a whole and you are encouraged to read the Guide prior to delivering the materials and refer to it as needed during implementation.

Instructors who are using the materials for the first time will find an overview of:
  • background information on the original program that was developed for use in community corrections offices and in jails with domestic abuse offenders
  • background information on the process used to modify the materials for use in schools and the community
  • the connection to the BC curriculum
  • the layout of each of the six modules with a brief explanation of each section
  • principles of facilitation and implementation

Facilitation is the art of guiding but not leading, bringing learning but not lecturing, engaging but not directing. Coming from the Latin facilitar, meaning, "to make easy," the role of the facilitator is not to do for others, but to bring out the ability of a group to accomplish a goal.

The materials are designed to be implemented using a facilitation model rather than a didactic model of teaching. Facilitation, as it is imagined here, allows students to take ownership for their thinking and to begin the important process of analysis – questioning their beliefs and re-evaluating their actions and behaviours in light of their emerging learning. The success of the program on which Respectful Futures is based, Respectful Relationships, has demonstrated over and over again that facilitation works to change thinking and attitudes where direct teaching/telling often fails.

Below are some tips which you may find useful as you implement the Respectful Futures resource materials:

Tip #1: Be Non-Judgmental and Respectful
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One of the most powerful aspects of facilitation is suspending judgment on the part of the instructor. Refraining from shaming or blaming any individual or group of learners will almost always allow them to feel safe and to open their minds to critical self-examination. The Respectful Relationships Program offered to adults has demonstrated that, when discussing serious issues such as domestic abuse, it is critical to refrain from being judgmental. Abuse is a learned behavior that can be changed. In the pilot phase of the Respectful Futures program, instructors found that learners were equally able to examine topics such as bullying and anger more calmly and critically than when challenged.

Showing no judgment does not mean acceptance – it means that ideas are being collected and can be analyzed later. Even when students suggest something that is offensive, it is critical to remain curious and try to understand what is really going on. Almost always other students will open the door to other ideas and the facilitator can use the contradictions to examine the merits of the differing positions.

Tip #2: Create a Safe Environment
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Closely related to Tip #1, creating a safe environment is important to having students trust in the process of self-examination. In many cases, the modules may lead students to bring up topics that result in emotional responses. Good facilitation suggests that measures for creating a safe and trusting environment must be in place. Teachers should remind students that, if they find themselves responding or reacting emotionally to any topic or activity, they should seek out a trusted adult in a timely way, either within the school or at home. It may be you, the facilitator, but it need not be. Students should also know that there is no expectation that they share their feelings or thoughts with the group – opening up in groups is not a requirement and they should know this.

Facilitators should, during and in the hours and days after each module, monitor students for noticeable changes in behaviour, including the following:

  • Becoming easily agitated, emotional, and overly sensitive
  • Experiencing difficulty sleeping or carrying out day-to-day activities
  • Mentioning that the topics discussed are interfering with their other thoughts
Should any worrisome behaviours develop, the school counsellor should be contacted for support and resources.

Tip #3: Be the Respectful Role Model

On the surface, healthy relationships seem simply to work well. When we "peek under the hood," however, to see what is supporting these relationships, we find that the following are almost always present:

  • Honesty and openness
  • Trust
  • Patience
  • Physical safety
  • Emotional security
  • Understanding and empathy
  • Respect
  • Efficacy
  • Mutual support
  • Loyalty
When considered within the teaching and learning paradigm, these characteristics can also be seen to apply to facilitators' best interactions with students. Modelling is one of the most powerful tools in any learning situation and teachers who embody these characteristics, as well as demonstrate through their behavior that they believe in the tools set out in the Respectful Futures materials, will support students' growing understanding and skill development needed to nurture mature and open relationships. Young people learn more by watching what the significant adults in their lives do than from what they say.

Tip #4: Know Your Limits

The topics in the Respectful Futures modules may lead to responses in some students that are painful and overwhelming. Good facilitators recognize when they are moving into areas with individuals that are beyond their ability to cope. In many schools, the staff may decide that counsellors will be responsible for teaching the Respectful Futures modules, especially those that cover more sensitive and complex matters, such as dating and relationship violence. These topics may result in a traumatic response from students who have been affected directly or indirectly by unhealthy relationships and counsellors will be better equipped to deal with the responses. Working with such students may require more specialized skill than many classroom teachers or community instructors possess.

In some schools or programs, however, there may not have sufficient staff with the appropriate knowledge and skills to teach these modules. In these cases, it may be possible to request district level staff or community workers from the health and social services areas to assist. Get help when you need it – don't try to be all things to all people!

Tip #5: Be Flexible

Each of the modules in the Respectful Futures materials introduces concepts that may be new to most. Facilitators should carefully monitor the engagement of students and their growing (or not!) understanding of the concepts. Just as it is impractical to move to an examination of complex fractions without building a foundation with simple fractions, so is it unhelpful to move forward too quickly within a module. Take the time to ensure deep understanding of one concept before moving on to next. It is always better to build a strong foundation upon which further learning can occur than to move ahead without one.

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