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June 13, 2017

Encouraging Discussion and Inspiring Participation — Team Fiesta

Editor’s Note: Cynthia A. Spence, Ed.D. recently completed the Mind In the Making Facilitator Institute. In May of 2016, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading held a Mind in the Making (MITM) Facilitator Institute for 27 individuals from 13 different agencies in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Since then, these facilitators have been presenting Mind in the Making’s Seven Essential Skills Training Modules to over 375 people throughout the Suncoast region. Due to demand, a second Mind in the Making Facilitator Institute was held in February of 2017, raising the number of local facilitators to 50.

April Glasco and I just completed facilitating a Mind in the Making (MITM) workshop hosted by Lighthouse of Manasota. This workshop is only the second that I have co-facilitated. One of the things that I’ve enjoyed most is observing the concept of “facilitated learning” emerge and evolve within the group as we progressed through the Seven Essential Life Skills modules. The “Principles of Facilitated Learning” describe a group process that encourages discussions that inspire participants to examine each of the Seven Essential Life Skills in their lives, and in the lives of children. Through this process, the diverse group of participants, once strangers, developed cohesion and were encouraged to take actions toward the accomplishment of personal goals and objectives.

For example, Sam (name changed) recently moved to the area from South Florida. Soon to be 18, he is now living with his aunt hoping to re-group and make better decisions. He dreams of joining the Job Corps and completing his high school diploma. Sam offered his perspective when the group appeared to be at a stalemate over what to do with children who repeatedly refuse to follow the rules and instructions. “Maybe there’s something wrong” he offered, followed by his report that he wished his aunt was more “strict” with him.

Sam was encouraged to use “WOOP” to establish his goals, identify potential obstacles, envision his life after completing the Job Corps and getting his high school diploma, and for developing his plan. “W-O-O-P” (wish, outcome, obstacle, and plan) is a goal setting strategy that brings wishes to reality through action. Sam didn’t finish all of the modules because of his acceptance into the Job Corps, and so we wish him much success and happiness!

Lighthouse of Manasota Staff

Lighthouse of Manasota provides a holistic approach to helping visually impaired children and adults achieve independence and an improved quality of life. Lighthouse of Manasota staff members, Angela and Nancy, educated us about the challenges faced by the visually impaired and the pleasures of watching these individuals achieve success. These dedicated women inspired discussions of the application of the Seven Essential Life Skills with visually impaired children. Within the context of the MITM group, participants were welcomed to ask questions some once felt taboo. The application of the “Principles of Facilitated Learning” encouraged an environment of sharing with and learning from each other. Thank you to Lighthouse of Manasota for hosting the MITM workshop and supporting the efforts of The Patterson Foundation and the Suncoast Campaign for Grade Level Reading.

Cynthia A. Spence, Ed.D.
Organizational Leadership

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