The Facilitator Book of Questions: Tools for Looking Together at Student and Teacher Work by David Allen and Tina Blythe is an excellent reference guide for teaching educators how to go about role playing as a professional facilitator. Generally, facilitators examine student and teacher work products to glean progress and refine methods to enhance performance.
The authors explain that a protocol is a formal structure for gaining input on specific educator work products together with a structure for organizing urgent conversations aimed at seeking improvement.
Generally, small group participants are invited to critique specific work products and raise probing questions which invite reflection, clarification and strategies to move the agenda forward. Oftentimes, facilitators must develop information by structuring a conversation, listening to group members, clarifying issues, asking probing questions, and observing participants in action. At times, a facilitator must hire or engage an expert to pinpoint where the specific expertise resides and how to exploit it fully to benefit the community of educators and students.
The authors provide strategies for facilitators to manage conflict, outright non-cooperation or simply group deadlocks. Facilitators take non-verbal clues. Sometimes, time is taken out from the small group encounter to rank the importance of longstanding questions, refine goals, and experiment with different approaches. Classic challenges to facilitators involve limited time to accomplish goals, the shear size of the work group and reluctance to cooperate. The authors explain how to manage these types of difficult situations in practice.
Facilitators improve through continuous observation, emulating success models, asking for feedback, reflecting on progress, and documenting results. The website www.lasw.org provides specific examples of protocols to examine
The Facilitator Book of Questions greatly simplifies the
task of a facilitator by zeroing in on the most effective methodologies and approaches to begin very difficult conversations and guide them to a successful
conclusion which comports with the existing organizational dynamics or bureaucratic culture.