Happy New Year! I hope you are all feeling relaxed and full of get up and go to start the new year.

This weeks Training Tips Thursday post is about how to deliver training successfully with a c0-facilitator, co-trainer or however you refer to yourselves. Most of the training I have delivered I have co-facilitated. It has many benefits.

At the planning stage the benefits are:

  • you have more experiences to draw upon
  • a larger pool of ideas
  • the ability to share the workload.

When delivering the benefits are:

  • you get to rest your voice for a bit
  • the learners don’t have to listen to the same voice for the whole course which helps them stay engaged
  • you may use different facilitation styles which will cater to the different learning styles within the group
  • splitting the group up for smaller group work is easier to facilitate
  • if any issues arise (eg. the computer has a funny five minutes, the coffee doesn’t arrive, or someone in the group needs one to one attention etc.) then one person can deal with that while the other continues to facilitate the course
  • and if the worse should happy and one of you isn’t able to make the delivery day due to illness or something else last minute then the course can still go ahead with one of you.

There are also challenges that can arise from co-facilitating. These are the ones I have personally experienced and how I dealt with them.

Challenges:

Not knowing your co-facilitator at all before working with them.

Depending on how long I was going to be working with my co-facilitator for determined how I approached this. If I was going to be facilitating a course with them over an academic year, which for my courses involved weekend residential training courses, evening and whole day courses then I wanted to get to know them well. I would plan in three or four full days to work with them over the couple of months leading up to the course. The first of these would often involve a long lunch. When I first started doing this it felt a bit like I was skiving but it was actually a really useful, and I think essential, start to the working relationship. We found out about each others’ work backgrounds, experiences of delivering training, the bits of training we really liked doing, the bits we didn’t (eg. I’ve worked with people who really aren’t confident writing on a board in front of people so I would always do that if needed.). We would discuss how we liked to plan things, our other commitments that might affect how much time we could give to the course and our expectations of each other.

If I was just delivering one or two short courses with someone then I would always meet with them a couple of times before delivering, for an hour or two each time, but these courses were usually more prescribed. We would have a bit of a get to know you chat, split up the course into who was going to deliver what and discuss who would provide resources.

Uneven sharing of workload.

Near the start of my training career I experienced a few situations where I worked with someone who didn’t pull their weight with the planning of courses but was happy to rock up on the day and deliver the course and take the positive feedback from the learners. As I gained experience I became happier to challenge this. With some people I worked with we would agree we would be responsible for writing and planning the sections of the courses we would deliver. I prefer a more joined up approach than this normally but for some people this worked.

Having a very different approach to the planning and delivery.

I experienced this with one of my colleagues who I delivered nearly all my academic year courses with and many short courses as well. She sat next to me in the office and we were very different in our approach to nearly everything, although we both drank a lot of tea. I think that saved us. It is always good to find some common ground, no matter how small it seems. We ended up becoming very good colleagues and friends but it took time. And that is the key point, you have to give a working relationship like that time. I felt she took too long to do things when we were planning and developing courses. I felt she talked for too long while explaining things, where I was more succinct. This put a strain on our working relationship. It all changed when we started talking more and tried harder to accommodate the other ones way of working. I found out that she found me equally frustrating to work with at times. Also, one day one of our learners told me that he loved her style of delivery and that the way she explained things was perfectly on his level. That’s when co-facilitation works. If I had been delivering alone then he wouldn’t have got as much out of the course. It made me appreciate her way of working more and made me much more accepting of our differences.

The overarching piece of advice I have is to keep talking to your co-facilitator and keep reviewing what you deliver and how you deliver it so you keep improving and the learners keep getting the best experience you can offer.

Next time

In TTT #4 I’m going to focus on evaluating your training.

Thank you for reading.