Written by Bo Percival, edited by the JUMP! Team
In March of 2014, some amazing things happened while JUMP! was at Shanghai Community International School Pudong in Shanghai. The team worked for two days in a black box, completely devoid of any natural light and trained 16 incredibly talented young individuals to facilitate at the ACAMIS conference. During the process, we managed to create a new piece of JUMP! architecture which we would like to share with our community, ‘The Five Foundations of JUMP! Facilitation.’
This simple, yet effective, guide allows us as facilitators, as well as the youth we train, to have a clearer understanding of exactly how JUMP! does what it does so well. Facilitation is not something you can just pick up on the fly nor is it easily taught; however, it is a skill inherent in all of us that can be brought out with the right tools, models and understanding of effective communication and group interaction. Facilitation is a combination of preparation, knowledge and creativity. Given the extent of experience in the JUMP! team, we thought it was time to extract some of the brilliance into a form that can be incorporated into each individual’s style of facilitation.
Here is the basic framework for how JUMP! facilitates, and we hope our community can use it to their advantage, whether they are facilitating an activity, school assembly or a conference.
The Five Foundations of JUMP! Facilitation
Know Your Audience – It is important to know with whom you are working and what you are there to achieve. This context allows you to engage your audience through your stories, approach and delivery choices. Facilitating to a group of students in Grade 4 will differ from facilitating to students in Grade 12, and it’s important to plan and prepare accordingly.
Define the Frame – The way in which you frame an activity serves to give that activity meaning and purpose. In other words, why are we doing this activity? Is the purpose of the activity to explore trust? To work on communication? To practice skills in resolving conflict? Defining the frame allows your audience to understand the intent of the activity.
Set the Parameters – The parameters are the objectives and constraints of the situation. This is the information the group MUST know about the experience. What is the objective, or the indicator of group success? When will the group know they have achieved the goal? What is allowed within the activity, and what is not? In order for participants to feel fully empowered during an activity, it is crucial that they have a very clear understanding of the parameters.
Support the Experience – This is where the magic happens. It’s not a science, but an art. Facilitators must develop the ability to know what kind of support to provide, how much, and when. There is no substitute for experience.
A great facilitator knows when to assume the role of teacher, coach, mentor or trainer (more to come on this in a later post) and adjusts to fit the needs of the group, but it takes practice. The facilitator needs to observe what’s going on, provide the group with the support and tools they need, and know when and how to reframe the activity if necessary.
Debrief – This is possibly the most important aspect of the whole process. Knowing how to ask the right questions comes through a combination of observation, insight and experience. This can be simplified to ‘What’ (What did we see, hear and feel?), ‘So What’ (What does this mean?), ‘Now What’ (What are we going to do with this new understanding, and how can we apply it outside of this experience?).
Pro Tip: Tying your debrief back to your original frame will increase the understanding of how the group has grown throughout the experience. This encourages participants to reflect on how they felt before the experience and how they feel after, which emphasizes the experiential learning component.