I facilitated three 45-minute leadership workshops today to groups of 12 - 40 high school students. One of the tools I implemented is a key to great workshop facilitation. This means it is very effective at taking hands-on activities or exercises and helping students move quickly to answering the question, "how can this help me in my life?"
This technique is called Positive Life Application Questioning. This is how I used it today.
1. We began with the statement, "When your teams are good, life is good." This leadership nugget framed the upcoming high-level "how am I doing at teamwork in my life" lesson. I then guided the students through a challenging team building exercise in groups of 6-8.
2. After the activity, I asked the students to work with a partner and list out five answers (students respond to having targets to shoot for) to this question, "If you were completely successful at this task, what team skills would you and your team have to use?" I asked the students to write down everything to heighten the importance of their answers and the chances they remember them and refer to them later. Then I asked people to share and we added to everyone's list.
3. This step is where the Positive Life Application Questioning enters the picture. I asked everyone to look at their list and quietly ponder this question, "If I were great at all of these, how would my life and the lives of the people around me get better?" The silence and the focus were extreme. Their lists contained some simple, some complex, some easy, some difficult team skills - respect, listening, collaboration, synchronized thinking, coaching, etc. Definitely skills everyone struggles with from time to time.
The reason why PLAQ works is because it invokes:
1. Specific life application.
2. Hope for the future.
3. A challenge for modified future behavior.
These factors mixed together with the emotional experience of a leadership activity/exercise produce an invested student mind and heart. When you are able to combine a fun, interactive experience with a hopeful, specific and challenging application question, you are truly facilitating learning.
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