Though it might seem somewhat in opposition to fluid conversation, structuring facilitated dialogues can be particularly helpful when seeking to scaffold and inspire learning. Based on my post last month around the facilitator’s mindset, I wanted to offer another resource to explore facilitation techniques further.

Continue to keep in mind that facilitation requires a growth mindset: as you practice with some of these resources and gain confidence, know that there are always new horizons to reach and new skills to master. It’s an ever-changing challenge, and that’s the excitement of it!

Patti Clayton’s “DEAL Model for Critical Reflection” is one of the best approaches for a facilitator to prompt and inspire participants’ critical reflection and learning through thoughtfully sequenced questions (definitely utilize some of the Learn-Be-Do questions during these steps as well). The DEAL Model is based on years of cognitive and experiential learning research, including such models of learning as Bloom’s Taxonomy.

The DEAL Model first provides the opportunity for participants to Describe their experience … a fly-on-the-wall perspective that utilizes an objective exploration, so that all the details of the experience are on the table. Question starters include ‘what,’ ‘where,’ ‘who,’ and ‘when.’

Second, participants Explain what that experience might mean to them and their community.  How were they feeling and being during the experience?  What were they learning?  In addition to the question starters mentioned above, other question starters might include ‘how’ and ‘why,’ which begin to encourage participants more analytical thinking, a focus for this step.

In the last stage, participants reflect on their descriptions and explanations/analysis and Articulate their Learning from that experience. This is also where ‘Do’ questions might come into play: given the articulated learning, what are participants going to do with that learning?  A simple, quick method for this last section, and a nice way to conclude the reflection is to use a straight forward fill-in-the-blank exercise.  From this _______ experience (conversation/reading/moment), I learned ________, which inspires me to __________.

That statement of learning and action can offer a powerful conclusion to facilitated conversations, trainings, and workshops, offering participants a potent reminder of the meaningful experience they just shared and explored.