Without seeing the activity in advance, fourteen faculty graciously agreed in June to be facilitators of the opening day afternoon activity in August. My aim was to have facilitators from each of the three divisions (lower, middle and upper) as well as in as many subject areas as possible. I was thrilled when a teacher in the Music Department responded that he would be delighted to be a facilitator and that this was the first time he had been asked to act in such a capacity. So far, so good.
I provided a brief description of what the activity would be, stated that it would not be complicated to carry out, and promised to get back in touch towards the end of the summer with all supporting materials. This was in June, and again, so far, so good, because folks were still around and checking email.
Off everyone went on their summer ways, and off I went to design the activity, only to return in August with an email letting everyone know that they would find a packet in their mailboxes with all pertinent materials, and that I would do a run-through of the activity the day before the opening meeting.
Glitch #1: One member of the group doesn’t read email over the summer (as she later told me), avoiding it until the very first day back for opening meetings. Hence, she missed the run-through meeting, never bothered to read the email, and never bothered to check her mailbox. I did telephone her after the run-through to find out if she was okay, and the next morning, after she told me she still had not checked her mailbox, I retrieved the packet and set everything up for her.
Lesson #1: I should have phoned everyone at the same time that I posted the August email. This would have insured that the one individual did not miss the run-through.
This activity required the use of fourteen SMART Boards. I went through room assignments twice, first dispersing folks throughout the buildings but then relocating them to mostly three wings near one another in order to make it easier to check with everyone during the activity.
Glitch #2: Many of these rooms had SMART Boards which were newly installed over the summer and required last minute touches to get them ready for the activity. Classes did not start for another eleven days, so having to accommodate the opening activity added to the IT Department’s load, forcing them into my time frame instead of theirs.
Lesson #2: Rather than just doing this verbally and assuming it would all be set, in June I should have shared via email the technical requirements for August, and then followed up in early August, so that nobody would be caught by surprise.
In order so that I could wander around and provide support during the activity, my group was co-facilitated by myself and another faculty member. I had slotted the Headmaster into my group and during lunch gave him a personal invitation/reminder to attend. Am happy to say he came and stayed for close to half an hour. I checked on all groups at the very start of the activity and then remained with my group for the rest of the activity.
Glitch #3: There were a few groups that could have used some assistance. In particular, one group was not sure how to align their computer with the new SMART Board.
Lesson #3: If I organize an activity that has facilitators, it is my responsibility to be available to provide support to those facilitators throughout the activity. I put my participation in the activity ahead of my final facilitation of the activity. (Seduced by my own stuff 😉
One other comment given me was that not all facilitators were at the same level with their SMART Board skills. Aware of this at the very start, I did not see it as an issue. We all have different teaching styles and comfort levels with this skill set. One purpose of the activity was to model use of the Board, and I thought it fine for faculty to see that not everyone is an expert from the getgo. I also viewed this as an opportunity to get folks involved as facilitators from different subject areas and divisions.
Would I plan a whole faculty activity again? Absolutely! Have I learned from this process? Absolutely!