The Plural I in FIRST
Your first few minutes of your facilitation determine the spirit of your training; whether positive or negative. Maintaining a positive spirit in the training room should be one of the major goals of any facilitator.
The second domain of FIRST framework: "I" which stands for Interacting, guarantees a smile on your participants' faces during and after your training. Why is the "I" so important? Who supports the science behind the "I"? How can facilitators implement it?
The Significance of "I"
Trainings whether online or face-to-face require some sort of interaction among participants who come from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. In order to ensure a positive experience, the facilitator should make sure that the design includes moments which foster social events, positive spirit, and motivation & attention.
It's highly essential to encourage learners, motivate them, and grab their attention. People only learn new things and change their habits when they associate the "new experience" with a positive feeling.
Mainly, the utmost target of any training is encouraging learners to change certain actions/behaviors. For the latter to be accomplished, the "I" domain should be widely integrated in the design and implementation of any facilitation.
The Science Behind "I"
Bandura's social learning theory highly supports the "I" domain. The theory is known for bridging the behaviorist and cognitive learning theories. It accentuates that humans learn from one another; therefore, participants in any training are expected to learn from each other through observation, modeling, and imitation.
The theory includes attention, memory, and motivation. Similarly, the "I" domain in FIRST, has three main principles:
- The Social Event: this basically involves socializing and networking with other participants.
- The Positive Spirit: this includes positive engagement, positivity, and optimism.
- Motivation & Attention: this principle increases the learners' willingness to learn and caters for their attention span.
The Strategies of "I"
At certain times, you attend workshops where the facilitator basically "pushes without motivating" information on you, and you leave the session with absolutely minimal gain of knowledge and null willingness to change any habit or take any action. Such workshops lack motivation to change and also target the lower-order thinking skills. In order to avoid the latter, the different domains of FIRST should be applied interchangeably. Specifically, the "I" domain should be catered for and included in the design of any facilitator; guarantying a positive, impactful, and sustainable experience.
Here are few tips that I employ in my trainings to cater for the "I" domain:
- Create a virtual platform like a blog, wiki, or a WhatsApp group where you ask all participants to introduce themselves.
- On the day of the workshop, create a positive ambiance in the training room where you put soft music, serve some snacks, and place positive notes, flowers, or name tags on the participants' chairs.
- Welcome your participants with a wide smile and communicate your gratitude for their presence.
- Include a lot of discussions and interactions. Try to open networks and channels of communication during breaks.
- Encourage positive thoughts. Discuss positive issues.
- Include energizers and ice-breakers.
- Reinforce the learners by shedding light on their positive attitudes and progress.
Start your facilitation positively, maintain that spirit during the facilitation, and let the impact fascinate you!
As quoted by Atul Gawande: "Human interaction is the key force in overcoming resistance and speeding change."