Letting Students Lead

As we facilitate discussions about youth empowerment, we have yet another opportunity to share our power with students, thereby putting theory into practice. Once again, the process of the discussion is as important as its actual content.

The common perception of a facilitator’s role is that of moderator. We may assume that as teacher, we need to ensure that all exchanges—all comments and interactions by and among students—flow through us. In fact, disrupting this pattern and expectation can provide students with opportunities to practise leadership.

Whenever students are able to identify strategies and solutions, to reflect and think for themselves, they have an opportunity to build skills and self-confidence. When students interact directly with each other, respectfully challenging or questioning their peers to stimulate discussion, taking on a facilitation role, this is an indicator of engagement as well as empowerment.

By encouraging such leadership we help nurture the development of positive character attributes and essential life skills. Furthermore, students will be more likely to carry out strategies they put forward.

How could I better support students to facilitate this dialogue?