Facilitating kid meetings
From: Kevin Wolf (kjwolfdcn.davis.ca.us)
Date: Sat, 28 Feb 1998 20:04:05 -0700 (MST)
At 07:29 PM 2/28/98 -0600, you wrote:
  A little while back
>they came to us and asked for help facilitating their meetings (we're still
>working on that - here's one for the list: how do you facilitate a meeting
>when the participants have 15 minute attention spans?). 

Hi

Jesse asked how one facilitates a meeting with kids with a 15 minute
attention span - I first thought it read 1.5 minute attention span which
sounded more accurate :-)   We haven't had any kid meetings in a year or so
but I was the one who facilitated the kids meetings (ages 5 - 14) for a few
years.  The kids wouldn't allow any other adults because their parents
especially wanted them to sit down, not squirm, etc.  The kids wanted their
own meetings and I gained their trust by helping them without being
judgemental.  I have described these as the most demanding I have ever
facilitated (and I facilitate a lot of meetings).  The wide spread age
differences make it such that the older kids are more dominating and can
push the younger ones into decisions they might not want.  My job entailed
helping make sure that the younger ones were heard, that the right
questions were asked, that  basic groundrules were followed, that they
agreed on their agenda objectives before starting the meeting, that
decisions were clear, etc.   If you think you are a good facilitator in
terms of helping a group make decisions without forcing your own ideas and
structure on them, facilitating kids meetings is a good test of one's skills. 

Some of the kids' issues were quite intense.  For example, some kids felt
that some parents automatically took their own kids side in any dispute and
didn't spend the time listening and ensuring that their kids were telling
the whole story.  (Lesson here parents - don't make snap judgements when
coming upon a conflict or problem.  Take the time to listen.  Get another
adult to participate.  Use good conflict mediation skills.  And don't
automatically take your kids side.  The other kids can quickly form
opinions of adults.)  It took a while to heal this lack of respect that
developed.  Some kids still don't like some of the adults in the community
because of these past problems.

N Street kids here will have future meetings when they have a need for
them.  In the meantime, they evolve, we evolve and, in general, there is a
lot of harmony and little reason to meet.  

Kevin 
Kevin Wolf & Associates    - Consensus Facilitation
724 N Street               - Strategic and Watershed
Davis, CA 95616              planning
kjwolf [at] dcn.davis.ca.us     - Internet development  
Phone 530-758-4211         - Stanislaus Stakeholder proccess
Fax   530-758-2338           
http://www.dcn.davis.ca.us/go/kjwolf
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