Personal Reflection on Delivering a Workshop

“Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.”- Confucius (in Wooten et al. 2010)

This semester one of our assignments implied facilitating a workshop, which according to the definition, is an excellent way of sharing skills and helping other students gain knowledge from each other. Even though the teaching environment did not impose us students to be experts in the domain, the workshop can be very well facilitated if the participants are equals, sharing common responsibilities in order to create a positive learning experience (Seeds for Change, 2017). It is important to understand that role of facilitator, as it is slightly different than teaching, training or leading. Our role as a group was to share our knowledge by encouraging the rest of the students to learn too. Therefore the aim was to create an environment in which they would feel comfortable to learn. The main difference between a teacher and a facilitator during a workshop is represented in the image below:

facilitator teacher (1)
(Seeds for Change, 2017)

The overall time spent on planning the workshop was short compared to any other group assignment. The main reason was because we already had experience from previous group assignments, therefore we have proven increased responsibility during this project. As soon as our group was ready and acknowledged by the tutors we have contacted each other and established social media connections, then created a WhatsApp group to ease our communication, as well as to share documents and research work. We have discussed how we are going to approach the project and, in this scope we started brainstorming and proposing ideas.

There are various methods which can help people learn, and this is defined as a learning style. The diagram below exemplifies these styles in two groups: through passive and active learning.

(Seeds for Change, 2017)

After setting the objectives and deciding on specific tasks, based on our own preferences, we agreed upon debating the case studies with the public, involving in this way active learning. In order to measure our success, we used a quiz game at the end of the workshop that tested the newly acquired skills. Throughout the planning process an advantage was that we could deliberately talk about the strengths previous groups had and what pain points we faced, learning from the in order to improve our workshop. Friendliness and humour, although characterised by The Happy Manager (2017) as personal characteristics, were two of our main group characteristics, which made the load work enjoyable and less stressful.

Our topic – “Can events use sustainability as a promotional tool?”

Personally sustainability represented my favourite topic this year and I believe that our group made the subject interactive even though we already had the opportunity to hear from sustainability leaders and speakers at our University lectures.  However this factor made the topic even more challenging to approach, trying not to be repetitive or disinterest the public with the same information. This is why we have chosen to speak about the Shambala Festival, as we were confident that the case study has enough points to be discussed, mainly arguing on its decision to go meat-free in 2016, following to be the first gluten and whey free festival.

In order to deliver a sustainable workshop we have discussed the possibility of using iPads instead of paper, in this way we would also be engaging students to use technology in preparation for the debates. This was seen as a great initiative and our supervisors supported us and made sure we have the devices on the day.

Teamwork:  According to its definition, teamwork  is the sum of the efforts undertaken by each team member for the achievement of the team’s objective (Management Study Guide, 2017). In a nutshell, team work is the backbone of any team (Practical Management Skills, 2017). By working together we have increased our performance, developed new skills (such as public speaking and delivering a workshop), as well as gaining confidence in ourselves.

“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” – Mattie Stepanek (in Joncas, 2013)

In order to understand better how our team has performed I have created an info-graphic showing a brief SWOT analysis of our group work, representing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

(Image created by the author, 2017)

I realised how important teamwork is; when each member brings in their best and is willing to put effort into their work, the project has great chances of success. I enjoyed the fact the no one had to do anyone else’s part. Besides all hard work, group members were able to detach their selves from the real world and focus on the workshop, creating enthusiasm and initiative to make it happen, by taking a positive attitude towards the project.

We had very productive and efficient team meetings. The biggest flaw in the group was time management, mainly due to external factors and busy schedules. This may have made us not discuss thoroughly some ideas we were very excited about in the beginning. The fact that we did not chose a leader might have been a wrong approach, as there was no one to organise and plan the group ahead, thus overloading our work in the past week. In terms of opportunities, I believe that you can never plan ahead too much and we could have definitely done this better. Time management issues also made us start our work quite late and could have put us in the situation of not finishing the project on time. However we have successfully motivated ourselves and managed to accomplish the tasks that have been initially proposed.

Workshop: The teaching experience was one of the most enjoyable parts of the projects and in order to get the audience to relax and be confortable, as suggested by Mind Tools (2017) we have implemented an icebreaker song, which helped the students to pay more attention from the beginning. Additionally the issues we faced during the event taught the team some valuable lessons as we did not have the visual support and had to improvise in order to keep the attendees entertained. It was a positive outcome, and the next time this happens we will be prepared.

Feedback: Our group received valuable feedback inspiring confidence and place for improvement. I think that we have achieved the main objective: to design a learning experience and engage the students. It was great to see that our initiative to use technology over paper to align with nowadays sustainability policies. I have attached the feedback from our course leader below:

(Image created by the author, 2017)
(Image created by the author, 2017)

Recommendations & Conclusion: Besides the improvements that have been proposed above by our tutors, attention to detail will be recommended as we had more references which unfortunately, due to last minute edits, did not appear on the final document. Additionally I consider that our group would have benefited from having a leader and perhaps this should have been initially discussed before allocating the tasks. Personally, I think that doing a time line for the project (where stating the dates and the completions of specific tasks) would have helped us to be more organised.  Finally it will always be a good choice to have a plan B in case any unpleasant situation appears. In the end it has been a great learning experience from which I developed valuable skills that could be easily applied in the future workplace.



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