posted on Sep 16 2020
Training staff to be good in-person facilitators is tricky enough, but training them to facilitate through a screen adds a new layer of challenges. There’s so much to discuss, from handling technology to choosing the right activities to keep kids engaged . . . where do you even start?
As a children’s entertainment and educational organization that has been running virtual programs since mid-April, we have had plenty of practice, not only facilitating events but training others on the best ways to facilitate virtual programs.
Spotlighting is the facilitator’s most powerful tool for controlling and guiding the class’s focus. When facilitating, they can (and should!) use the spotlight to direct attention toward themselves or other participants that they’ve decided to feature.
Facilitators should be monitoring the spotlight’s focus constantly during the class. Keep in mind that participants may be viewing the session in spotlight view only, and if that’s the case, the screen receiving the spotlight will be the only thing that they can see. It is crucial that the facilitator is on top of guiding this view at all times!
Nothing interrupts a session more than when a participant’s younger sister throws a temper tantrum in the background! Remind facilitators that it’s usually best to keep everyone muted unless they have been called on to speak. Facilitators should mention this to all participants at the start of each session, along with instructions on the best way to get the facilitator’s attention if they would like to share something (e.g. raising hands or private messaging them in the chat). That way participants understand what to expect and how to be heard if need be!
It’s tricky to keep kids (or adults!) engaged in a virtual session. Emphasize the importance of keeping facilitation energy high! Even if your teachers usually have great facilitation energy, urge them to double it when teaching virtually. Participants’ eyes glaze over much faster when they’re staring at a screen . . . and you want to keep everyone alert and engaged 100% of the time!
Another trick to keeping participants engaged is to keep the pace of the session rolling and vary the type of activities. While participants might stay engaged in a game for 10 minutes during an in-person session, they’ll probably get bored of it after 8 minutes during a virtual session; so it’s important to plan enough activities to change it up every 7-8 minutes.
Facilitators also try to include a variety of activity types, bouncing between physical and mental, full-group and individual, and short and long durations. Switching up the vibe from game to game keeps everyone engaged and focused on the session!
In-Depth Virtual Training Workshops For Your Staff
posted on Sep 16 2020
Taylor Ann is an NYC-based theater artist and children's theater director. After graduating from Hope College with a BFA in theater and creative writing, she toured with Missoula Children's Theatre for a year before moving to New York City. Taylor Ann was the Supervisor for mainstages Theater Camp Long Island in its' inaugural summer in 2018.