Your Life, Your Work, Your Future
People who use this self development pack are involved in learning as they are developing insights into themselves, their needs, their hopes and their ambitions.
Adults learn in complex ways, but one of the best and most supportive methods involves using past experience to provide the basis for reflection, coming to decisions and planning further experiences – that is further development. This pack aims to use this learning style whilst allowing for delivery of appropriate new information.
This means that facilitators supporting users must remind themselves of some of the characteristics of effective facilitation.
Facilitators are enablers they must :
Give clear instructions
Be ready to clarify and explain
Be able to listen
Be able to modify and change in response to the group’s needs
Give praise and encouragement
Guide, but not direct
Suggest but not tell
Support individual development
Signpost new routes and avenues for the learners.
Facilitators, in short, must serve the learners by providing the right conditions to support effective learning. They must have a positive attitude towards learners and their needs; knowledge of the learners, of method and of content; resources using self, learners, the environment and appropriate material and, lastly, the imagination to use the material in as exciting and interesting a way as possible.
The pack is designed to benefit people in work who want to think about their current position, their skills and previous learning and their future. It should allow them to assess where they are, what their skills and abilities potentially fit them for and start them on the process of planning their progression.
It is useable by persons of different backgrounds and attainments and has, as a part of it, an introductory module for those who need some additional support in getting started.
There is a benefit to be gained by employers as well, in that a motivated and forward looking workforce will be more productive than one which is depressed, introverted and convinced that there is little or no progress for individuals. Developing and bringing forwards staff from within, rather than depending on outside recruitment is a cost effective way of creating a skilled workforce!
Using the pack
The main pack is laid out in 7 sections with an introduction and asks the user to carry out a series of exercises leading to the production of a learning action plan.
The introductory module is shorter, looks at fewer variables and leads to development of a short term plan. It is designed to help those who have little experience of this type of learning and should allow them to move on to the main pack, if they wish.
The exercises are accompanied by text explaining how to use the pack and, in some cases, offering suggestions for responses. Much of the guide for facilitators, therefore, is included in the pack.
Group Size :
Learners doing this kind of work will benefit from a supportive atmosphere so small groups (no more than 6-8?) are probably best. Individual learners are likely to need advice and support but also a listener, so set aside time for this.
Each participant needs their own space, but also needs to be able to interact with the group, so an arrangement that allows writing space for individual exercises whilst letting the group interact would be best – a horse-shoe of tables, perhaps?
This is group work so discussion followed by reflection will be the key. As facilitator, you will need to act as a resource and stimulant, not as a director and be willing to offer individual support, as needed.
This will vary with circumstances. Responses are individual, so some may need more time than others. With support, the introductory module should take 2-3 hours or less and the main pack can be finished in a day.
It may be that the main pack will work best for some people over a series of sessions on different days.
You will know the group or individuals. You must decide, as part of your planning, how to handle this.
Teaching aids needed :
With a group some form of recording group responses, such as a flip-chart or board will be needed, together with whatever supporting material you chose to use and appropriate display technology
It would be wise to have some ice-breaking exercises on hand, for any new group.
The facilitator will need information resources on training, learning and guidance opportunities, systems and agencies any on any other matters which the exercises might raise.
The exercises :
It is important to emphasize that there are no right or wrong answers to any exercises. This is stated in the pack (under “Using this pack”).
Each exercise needs to be worked through in the most appropriate way.
In the following pages, you will find some suggestions to help you and the users.
This section deals with the participants present position, how they reached it and what skills they have.
As such, it is as fairly individual exercise, but group discussion around skills and how to define them will be useful, particularly if the group already know each other.
To help in identification of skills, pairs work, particularly in defining skills at work, could be helpful.
In the text, there is a list of skills. This is not an exhaustive list but can, and should, be added to in relation to the group being worked with. There does not seem to be any benefit to be gained from adding to the suggestions here, as a definitive list would be very long.
It is worth remembering, however, that we are asking individuals to define their skills, in their terms so, make allowances for this.
This section covers learning and the text offers a fair degree of guidance.
A discussion around learning and the terms used in the text will greatly aid the individual work in this section, so you should consider starting with this.
It might also help if the completion of the first table in this section was done as a group exercise, so allowing for discussion of each learning skill in turn.
The second table has several examples in the text, but you may need to think up other, more locally appropriate ones. Again, some support may be needed in completing “What I learnt”.
The third table may need some explanations of the terms, but should be straightforward and the final questions could be dealt with individually or could form the basis for a group discussion.
This deals with changing skills and, as such, is particular to the individual, at least in the first part. If the earlier sections have been completed successfully, then the first table in this section should not offer any problems.
The second table will need a little time for participants to reflect before completing it and a chance to talk it through with another group member will help.
The rest of this section deals with changes at work. If the group all come from the same employer, then a group discussion will develop material to help answer the questions. If this is not the case, then a more general discussion, followed by one to one work might be more appropriate.
This is a very individual section so, apart from the introduction, group work may not be appropriate here. If the group do want, however, to discuss the results of their individual consideration, and all are happy to do so, then fine, but approach this, and this whole section, with care.
There are some suggestions for factors in the tables written in the text. To suggest more, without knowing about the groups involved, would not be appropriate in this guide. The facilitator will need to have some ideas based upon his/her knowledge of the group.
This section starts the process of planning. The text is self explanatory, and a preliminary discussion with the group will enable completion of the next stage, as individuals complete the exercises.
The list of formal chances is fairly complete, but there may be some that are not included, so feel free to add them.
The informal chance lists have been left empty deliberately. The participants need to realise that almost anything can be a chance to learn, so try to guide a discussion along this line. It is worth pointing out that several of the chances cited as formal may, in some circumstances, be informal chances.
As an aid, here are a few other possible chances of informal learning :
Making mistakes; going to conferences, dealing with people, domestic tasks, meeting people, interviewing, coping with change, project work, planning, being appraised, making decisions ……. The list could be endless!
The columns headed “I will do this by” can only be filled out with local knowledge of systems, opportunities and, perhaps, individuals so the facilitators will have to come up with suggestions.
The table “Who can help me learn” is a generalised list. Facilitators should add local organisations, as appropriate.
Section 6 :
Is individual, so facilitators will need to plan group by group and person by person.
Section 7 rounds up the work done previously. The individual learners need space to make their plans and to come to decisions. It is not likely that group discussion will help much here, so be prepared to advise individuals. Mind you, it may be that participants want to talk to each other and so support each other in this so, if this is the case, then encourage it.
As with other sections, the facilitator will need to have resources providing the information needed to answer questions about learning opportunities, sources of advice, providers of services, accreditation systems and so on.
The outcome, for each learner, should be an individually designed learning action plan which has been derived from the individuals past experience, present situation and needs and reflects their realistic ambitions.
In a way, this is a simplified version of the main pack, dealing with some, but not all of the areas covered in it.
The facilitative methods, therefore, are the same as for the main pack, and all of the comments in the earlier part of this guide hold.
Because the people using the introductory pack may be a little less experienced, more support may be needed and it will be particularly important to create a supportive group environment
The introductory module does reflect some of the sections of the main pack. You will find the information you need to help you deliver this module in the corresponding sections.
This material is not intended to be directive. The pack must be used as an enabling agent for individuals. Because of this, it is not possible to lay down hard and fast rules for delivery. This guide tries to offer some suggestions which might help but, in the end, it will be local facilitators, who know about local needs and local opportunities and systems who, together with the learners, decide how this work should be delivered and developed.