Though in many respects no different from preparing for any such small group event, for a story-telling work key steps might need to include:
Prior reading – for example on the role of the facilitator1 or to draw on other accounts of story-telling used as a way of exploring practice.
Agreeing the aims of the workshop with the hosting organisation – and then making them explicit.
Agreeing the number of participants for the workshop – in particular to clarify that the actual story-telling sessions work most effectively with 8-10 people and with at most 12; and that a facilitator will be needed for each of these small groups.
Producing key papers – to be printed off in advance and then circulated or tabled on the day: for example:
– a programme to fit into the agreed timeframes
– the ‘Practising’ section of the This is Youth Work ‘Book in Brief’
– a briefing paper for any note-takers allocated to the small groups;
– a prompt paper for a final session on defending youth work’
Preparing a brief introduction to the workshop
Some key focuses here would include:
– Contextualising the workshop within the host organisation or institution’s work.
– Contextualising it within any wider programme or campaign – for example, in IDYW’s case in the story-telling workshops which generated some of the stories in This is Youth Work and were used as prompts for subsequent workshops
– Restating the workshop’s aims
– Explaining the workshop’s programme and the process.
Confirming practical arrangements – for example:
– that flip chart stands/pads; pens, bluetak will be available
– whether (or not) there will be note-takers in the small group
– possible seating arrangements for the whole-group sessions
– whether small group sessions can be held in separate rooms which allow for seating in an open circle?
Seeking basic information on the participants – at the very least:
– job titles and where they are working
– whether part-time or full-time or volunteers
– whether they work together / know each other?
Using this information to, for example:
– get a sense of where the individuals are likely to be starting as youth workers – particularly, for a story-telling workshop whose focus is an analysis of youth work practice
– anticipate whether participants’ might need to be allocated randomly to the small groups in an attempt to mix and spread their experience and allow them to work with and learn from people they don’t know
– any other possible implications for the dynamics of the group and how participants may interact with each other.
1See Smith, Mark K. (2001; 2009) ‘Facilitating learning and change in groups‘, Encyclopaedia of informal education and www.see.ed.ac.uk/~gerard/MENG/MECD/topics.html.