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Learn this Powerful Approach to Effective Facilitation

Posted by Erik Vecere

I facilitated a 24/7 Dad® training for the Family Resource Center South Atlantic (FRCSA) last January in Raleigh, NC. When I returned a month later to deliver a second training on our InsideOut Dad® program, I was amazed at how proficient they had become facilitating 24/7 Dad® in only a few weeks! 

family-resource-center-south-atlantic.jpgThe program director, Vernita Griffith, told me the reason. She requires all of her facilitators to participate in “teach-backs” before they can facilitate the program with dads. 

Teach-backs involve the facilitators to run the program sessions with other staff first—before they run them with dads—so they can become familiar with the program content and understand how the activities should be conducted. They also reveal potential issues that could derail a session.

Vernita says that her facilitators take the teach-backs very seriously. Indeed, they study for days before they do their first one. When female staff participate in a teach-back, they role play as men. They even give themselves male names. Vernita mentioned that female staff even give the facilitators a harder time than the dads will!

Vernita shared an important insight that any facilitator should take to heart. “Facilitating is more than giving dads content,” she says. “Facilitators can concentrate so much on content that they miss opportunities to validate the dads or catch non-verbal cues. They need to know how to engage the dads and answer questions. The teach-backs help them get so comfortable with the content that they can focus on connecting and building trust with the dads.” 

Facilitators teach entire sessions by themselves and then repeat the sessions with a co-facilitator. This approach prepares them for times when their co-facilitator can’t make it and ensures they know the content for the entire session, not just their portion. Vernita also mixes up the co-facilitator teams in case someone has to jump in unexpectedly.

Vernita says that it is not possible for the facilitators to effectively facilitate a program right after they’ve been trained on it. “Our participants are everything,” she says. “We’re not going to bring our dads junk, and facilitators have to know the program inside and out to be able to focus on other elements of effective facilitation. That’s why teach-backs are so vital.” 

I am now fully on the teach-back bandwagon and have encouraged everyone in my NFI trainings to follow in Vernita’s footsteps. After all, as the facilitation goes, so goes the effectiveness of the program. 

Have you used teach-backs? If so, what have been your outcomes?

If you haven’t used teach-backs, what are you waiting for?

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