I’ve participated in scores of workshops in the past and almost always end up getting bored halfway through it. Seeing facilitators who are able to keep the participants attentive and engaged is a rarity. I always wonder what sets apart a good facilitator and a great one. My curiosity peaked when I heard that the Technology of Participation is the reason behind most of the great facilitators’ astounding work.
The training seminar, held at the Academic Conference Room, was given by Mrs. Josephine T. Cemine and Mrs. Maria Paz Espiritu of the Center for Research and Local Governance (CRLG). Both of them were part of the first batch of trainees to undergo ToP Training under the Governance and Local Democracy (GOLD) Project in 1996 together with six other faculty members of Holy Name University (formerly DWC-T) and representatives from the government and NGOs in the province.
The topics in the training focused on innovative methods in group facilitation, stressing the importance of facilitative leadership style as opposed to traditional leadership style, to create a participatory atmosphere in any learning session or workshop. These methods include the ORID Method, the Workshop Method and the Action Planning Method. For two days, the participants were taught and then asked to perform the methods with the facilitators always present to hone and guide each participant to perfection.
We became not only listeners but also speakers, and not only participants but also facilitators for our co-participants. We were taught “choreography”, voice modulation, positioning and the fascinating masking tape technology. Although the learning was intense and the inputs were numerous, fun and laughter wafted through the air making it an immensely enjoyable experience.
The seminar left a refreshing and enkindling feeling that resonated from the excited voices of the participants eager to share and apply ToP in their respective jobs. And maybe, just like me, they were also glad to be finally in the know, and be able to say when a class, a workshop or a seminar will rise, or go down in flames because the facilitator was not “ToP-trained”.