The Facilitator's Toolbox 2021

we can work it out.jpegThe Facilitator's Toolbox 2021 virtual workshops for Michigan library staff

In September 2021, MCLS in partnership with the Library of Michigan hosted four additional sessions of virtual training for Michigan library staff on facilitating meetings and conversations. Two sessions each of Part I (Make your meetings effective, efficient, and fun!) and Part II (Practical skills for responding to conflict and coming to agreement) we held. These hands-on trainings were limited to 12 participants, which allowed for plenty of personal attention and lots of interactive practice activities. We were happy to have offered these for the fourth year, bringing the number of those who have participated in these facilitation trainings to more than 145!

Who were these workshops for?

Skills were taught and practiced to be used in a variety of settings including staff and work meetings, strategic planning sessions, one-on-one interactions with library patrons, library sponsored community conversations, and focus groups. They included learning theory, as well as practice of skills and peer feedback. Because they were funded by the Library of Michigan, these trainings were only open to staff of Michigan libraries, but were open to and encouraged for those of all levels and roles.

What topics did these workshops cover?

Past trainings were updated and renamed in 2020 to more accurately represent what they covered and who should attend, and the sessions went virtual due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 Facilitator's Toolbox workshops were repeat sessions, in order to allow more people to attend. Content was similar to the 2018 and 2019 "Facilitation Training: Basic" and "Facilitation Trainings: Advanced (Coming to Agreement and Handling Conflict)" that were offered around the state, with some additional information on facilitating virtually.

The 2021 sessions were called:
The Facilitator’s Toolbox - Part 1: Make your meetings effective, efficient, and fun!
The Facilitator’s Toolbox - Part 2: Practical skills for responding to conflict and coming to agreement.

These sessions included some modeling of and information on hosting meetings virtually - a skill that was all the more important for staff of libraries in a mid- and post-pandemic reality.

Who taught these workshops?we can work it out people.jpg

For the fourth year, we were pleased to bring in Mary King and Sarah Ross, principal partners of We Can Work It Out, LLC to teach these trainings.

Mary and Sarah specialize in facilitating large group discussions and decision-making processes. Their facilitator training curricula draws upon 25 years of shared experience working with groups in public, private, and nonprofit sectors, and is grounded in a hands-on, practice-centered approach. Together, they bring a vibrant, dynamic approach to group decision-making processes with a relentless focus on finding agreement. These trainings were honed over four years of working with MCLS to provide quality training specifically for use of library staff.

Requirements for attendance

These were highly interactive virtual workshops, and participants gained hands-on practice and expert and peer feedback in using the facilitation tools taught. Attendees were required to have a microphone enabled and turn their cameras on for full participation, and attend the full day.

There were no special qualifications needed to attend Part 1. There was a prerequisite to attend Part 2 to have attended Part 1 first, or have already attended We Can Work It Out's "Basic" training through MCLS in 2018 or 2019.

When and where?

The Facilitator’s Toolbox - Part 1: Make your meetings effective, efficient, and fun!
Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, 10am-4pm Eastern
Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, 10am-4pm Eastern

The Facilitator’s Toolbox - Part 2: Practical skills for responding to conflict and coming to agreement.
Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, 9:30am-4:30pm Eastern
Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, 9:30am-4:30pm Eastern

All sessions were held over Zoom.

Cost and workshop details:

All sessions were 9:30am - 4 or 4:30pm, with a break for lunch. Because the Library of Michigan wants to support Michigan library staff in growing their skills toward the goal of stronger community engagement, registration was highly subsidized and was just $40 per person, including all materials.

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This project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional support provided by the Library of Michigan.