If youâ€™ve ever talked to someone who works at BYTE, youâ€™ve probably heard us say Hey, you should join our facilitation team! Sounds fun, right? Or do you wonder what the heck weâ€™re talking about, and why we keep asking you?
BYTEâ€™s facilitation team is the heart of our organization. Â Being part of the team means you get to travel around the Yukon with us to deliver youth workshops in communities, and in Whitehorse, too. Our facilitators are open-minded, organized youth who are good at going with the flow, and like to have fun.Â A lot of fun.
Our workshops are all about making sure youth feel comfortable exploring issues important to them. Facilitation actually comes from the French word â€˜facileâ€: easy.Â Thatâ€™s exactly what weâ€™re trying to do, create a space where itâ€™s easy for participants to share, feel safe, and learn from each other.
In trying to break down who a facilitator is and what they do, we talked to BYTEâ€™s Whitehorse Outreach Coordinator, Allison Furniss, and our community coordinator, Tanyss Knowles. This is what they say.
What does the word â€œfacilitator” mean to you?
Tanyss: Here at BYTE, itâ€™s someone who helps deliver workshops, creating a fun, safe and inclusive space.
So whatâ€™s the difference between a facilitator and a teacher?
Allison: Teachers are facilitators and have so many of the valuable skills that you need to facilitate, but teachers have to deal with things like classroom management and curriculum. I think a teacher is someone who acts in a position of authority, someone who enforces rules and discipline. A facilitator is someone who guides the group in discussions and healthy debates, conversation that ultimately leads to changed perspectives. Itâ€™s through that sharing and honesty that we learn from each other.
Why do you facilitate?
Allison: Itâ€™s fun, challenging, you get to meet new people, take part in interesting conversations, travel, plan cool activities and youâ€™re constantly engaged with youth and contemporary issues.
Tanyss:Â I love working with people. Facilitation is an extremely social profession. I believe our workshop topics are so important for youth to discuss. Issues like bullying, leadership, or substance use donâ€™t always seem like the most exciting topics at first glance. I take a lot of pleasure in making these topics engaging for youth to explore.
Whatâ€™s the most challenging part?
Allison: Every time you walk into a workshop, youâ€™re walking into an unknown zone. You donâ€™t always know the participants, and you donâ€™t know whatâ€™s going to emerge. Often itâ€™s fun, great, but it can also be really challenging and emotional.
What one piece of advice you would give to a new facilitator?
Tanyss: Always have patience.
Allison: Donâ€™t be afraid of letting process unfold.Â Have confidence in your ability to guide, to let people share, and to allow for silence and reflection, even if it’s uncomfortable. Donâ€™t be afraid of conflicting opinions. Allow them to foster dynamic conversation and debate.
BYTE is always looking for youth between 18-30 to join our facilitation team. Right now weâ€™re especially looking for males. If youâ€™re interested check out our facilitation page and drop by BYTE to meet Tanyss. Sheâ€™s always looking for an excuse to have a cup of tea and chat.