For this article, we asked some of our Graduate Student Instructors (GSI's) for their end-of-year reflections on their work teaching IGR courses.
Training Processes of Intergroup Dialogue Facilitation
Not being an alum of IGR myself, in many respects I am learning right along with our students. I admit to showing up to the first facilitator training course retreat a bit nervous, not having met any of the students and barely able to keep track of all the various games, exercises and discussions that fill the retreat weekend. Watching students negotiate Star Power, reflect on the Light in the Shadows film, and chat over lunch, my nervousness gave way to a feeling of awe. Students from all over the university, from a range of backgrounds and interests, had come together to share passion for social justice and compassion for one another - trusting each other enough to be vulnerable, to take risks, and to invite one another to delve deeper in to complex issues.
In the weeks that followed, I have had the great honor of accompanying this remarkable group of students as they practice and hone their facilitations skills. As they prepare themselves for leading their own dialogues next term and taking what we have learned beyond the classroom, I can’t help but feel inspired to do the same and think about how I can integrate this dialogic pedagogy into my future teaching. Whenever we do go-arounds and reflect as a class on how the day’s activities went, I always feel a sense of gratitude for the students and the ways that together we are transformed through dialogue. I am confident that feeling will remain with me for many semesters to come.
Practicum in Intergroup Dialogue Facilitation
The journey of a GSI throughout the semester with IGR is quite a trip. As a practicum coach, I was able to take that journey twice in a row, each being more enchanting and gratifying than the other, with sprinkles of whimsy scattered throughout. In this journey, I experienced as much growth as my students did, and for them and my co-instructors, I am thankful.
The moments I cherish the most are the ones where growth is so intense, it is palpable in the room, and all the facilitators and instructors are pushing their learning edges. I also cherish the laughs, the “OMG this happened in dialogue!!” F3s, Thursday instructor meetings, the “5-minute-crunch” coaching time when we don’t do coaching time in the beginning, the class hot seat, current conflict sessions, and co-’s working communication stuff out. What’s most rewarding though, is meeting 1st time facilitators during the retreat, and sensing how some are nervous about facilitating their 1st dialogue, only to see them realize how awesome they are once they have facilitated their 1st and 2nd and 4th and 9th sessions.
Thank you IGR for the opportunity to work with social justice educators, both facilitators and coaches, and be impacted by their teaching and learning. Thank you to the coaches that helped me become the facilitator that I am today, to my co-instructors who guided me through the instruction process and left their imprints on my facilitation style, and to my coachees who have been an inspiration and constantly rekindling my passion for social justice.