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Glossary of Facilitation Moves


Glossary of Facilitation Moves

Allowing ambiguity

Leave ambiguity hanging when appropriate, rather than trying to resolve it for participants.

e.g., “This is very complex work.”

Asking for expansion

Facilitator asks participant to develop their ideas.

e.g., “Say more about that.”


Wrap up whole discussion in order to transition to next phase of instruction.

e.g., “So it sounds like we are developing a consensus on the unit we want to build in Secondary 2.. I hear that we want to move forward with graphic novels, we want to have students write their own, and we want to workshop their work in small groups. Is that right?”

Eliciting what people already know

Facilitator investigates participants’ prior knowledge on the topic.

e.g., “How many of you have used the Tellegami app before?” ?

Letting people talk through ideas

Facilitator allows individuals to use the collective space to talk through their ideas without interruption.

Lifting up

Facilitator identifies an important idea that a participant raised in the discussion for further discussion (van Es et al., 2014)

e.g., “Wendy is saying something really important here about how we can help kids make the leap from topic to theme.”

Making Light

Facilitator makes a joke

Managing transitions and pacing

Orchestrate smooth transitions between activities.

e.g. “Five more minutes to work on your checklists, and then we will take a quick break before Anne shares her video.”

Meeting and greeting

Facilitator takes informal time to connect with participants before, during, and after the session.

e.g., “I heard you went to Reading for the Love of It! Did you see Wiggins? Once we start you have to tell us about it!”

Modeling teacher talk

Facilitator models what a participant might say in particularly challenging instructional moment.

e.g., “This is what I’d say. ‘Kids, I want you to pay close attention to the cover of this book….’”

Orienting teachers to student thinking

Facilitator asks participants to consider what students might think about in a particular task or in response to a question.

e.g., “What would your students find difficult about this task? Why?”

Part-to-whole; whole-to-part

Support participants to see the relationship between the small segment of instruction to the overarching goals, or to see the relationship between the overarching goals and the specific instance.

e.g., “So the reason we are working on press today is because it a high leverage practice of PD facilitation.”

Planting a thorn

Facilitator introduces a concept or practice that disrupts the participants’ assumptions or accepted practices.

e.g., “Now I am going to make you a little uncomfortable.  Often when we think students struggle with response, we think it’s the students’ fault. But if we want students to get better at responding to literature we need to get better at teaching them how to respond. Student success in response to literature is a measure of teaching success.”

Positioning participants competently

Articulate content in a way that frames participants as experts.

e.g., “You all are my Secondary 2 experts. Tell me where you think students would struggle when reading this text?”

Pressing for content understanding

Facilitator presses participants to consider content knowledge.

e.g., “What are the most important structures and features of an elegy?”

Pressing for pedagogical reasoning

Facilitator asks participants to articulate why a particular pedagogical approach is important in light of their views of students or content.

e.g., “You mention you think students should read a variety of text types. Why do you think that’s important?”

Pressing for practice-specificity

Facilitator asks participants to clarify what their idea would look like instructionally.

e.g. “So what does anti-racist education look like concretely in your classroom this week?”

Reinforcing norms of collaboration

Facilitator reminds participants about appropriate norms of interaction in the group setting.

e.g., “Let’s avoid using teachers’ specific names in a group discussion, and just call her, ‘Teacher A.’ Does that work?”

Repeating the question

Facilitator repeats the initial question for discussion when a group conversation has veered off-track.


Restate a participant’s contributions in their own words.

e.g., “So you’re saying students don’t know how to make the shift from topic to theme without explicit instruction?”

Request connections

Ask participants to make connections between each others’ ideas.

e.g., “Anne, how do you think the approach you are suggesting is similar and different from the approach Mike is describing?”

Sharing anecdotes

Facilitator shares a well-placed, brief, personal anecdote that points to the learning goals of the group.

e.g., “This reminds me of kayaking with my daughter on a difficult white water pass in Maine. I asked her to tell me how we were going to get through…”

Sharing professional news

Facilitator shares news about employment or personal lives from the “head office.”

e.g., “Did you all hear that Louise is the new chair of the Language Network?”

Sharing tools

Provide participants with tools that they can use in their classroom (e.g,. rubrics, checklists).

e.g., “I have a number of graphic novels to share with you that you might choose to use in your classroom.”

Sharing vulnerability

Facilitator shares concerns or worries, or acknowledges their imperfections or mistakes.  

e.g., “I was so nervous about today because I am going to try out something I’ve never done with teachers before.”

Standing back

Allow participants to talk to one another uninterrupted.

Validating participant ideas

Confirm and support participant contributions.

e.g., “I hadn’t thought about that last one. That’s interesting.”

Wait time

Allow silence to linger during whole group discussion.

e.g., “…….”

 Adapted with permission from Decomposition of PD Facilitation Practices, Megan Webster, 2015