The most impactful moments of this symposium had to do with my understanding of the role of the facilitator. Two specific moments around this understanding stick out. First, the understanding that the facilitator must/is heavily encouraged to let go of their ego. By ego, there is the ego that makes us the despot in a class, the ruler that has absolute control over rules and what is considered ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the class. I know to let go of that fear of having something not be ‘right’ in our discussions. However, there is also the ego in me that wants to share all my knowledge with my students, not to say they are wrong but to share because I’m excited to share. I began to learn that this ego can also stifle discourse and inquiry. If I always hop in right away to bring up an assumption, or clarify someone's question, or immediately give an example, I am taking the fun of inquiry away from my students. As a facilitator I want to be better at letting my students explore an idea and come to a conclusion, or additional wondering, by themselves with minimal input from me.
Second, I better understand the role of a facilitator in different level communities. By different level communities I mean the loose categories of beginning, emerging, or mature communities which designate how well the community understands and enacts the concepts of intellectual safety/emotional safety and the four pillars of p4c. In a beginning community it may be necessary to “meet a community where it is at.” To me this means acknowledging that this community might have a different understanding of respect and rules that I may need to enforce in order to help my community grow. Practically, this means that if I have an emerging community it might be better for me to directly call out inappropriate behavior to let others know it is not okay, whereas an advanced community might be able to reflect on this inappropriate behavior without me needing to explicitly call out the inappropriate behavior. I must acknowledge where my community is at and identify what they may need to help them become an emerging and mature community; and as my students grow I too will change and grow as the facilitator to better match what the community might need.
I can imagine myself bringing these powerful new understandings into my own classroom practice. This of course means that I need to be very mindful of my own actions, in addition to being attentive to the needs of individual students to ensure a safe environment. Once an environment is becoming safe and the community is emerging I can then begin to relinquish more of my ego and let students come to understandings instead of me always interjecting with my own thoughts and opinions. However, as a teacher I will always be attentive to the needs of the community as things change and evolve.
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