Being a great road safety facilitator

RYDA adopts an interactive learning approach and provides activities for students to personalise the messages.  Listening is a passive process for the brain and the information is stored for only a short period of time, then forgotten soon after. By contrast, the brain retains information if the person is able to experience, discuss, argue, or have to work hard to come up with their own answers.

The definition of a facilitator is:

Someone who helps a person or group do something more easily or find the answer to a problem, by discussing things and suggesting ways of doing things. (Cambridge Dictionary)

The facilitator’s job is to support everyone to do their best thinking and practice. (Wikipedia)

To help you understand some of the approaches in the RYDA 5.1 workshop we have adapted a summary of research on effective teaching and learning from John Hattie, Professor of Education at the University of Melbourne.

Getting the atmosphere right:

  • The facilitator should respect all students recognising that they are able, valuable and responsible. All student contributions should be acknowledged sincerely by the facilitator and discussed as time allows.
  • Establish trust through collaboration and cooperative engagement. The main time this occurs is in discussion allowing students to voice their opinions and thoughts. When students sense this, they will respond in most cases. Two other advantages of classroom discussion is that firstly, it allows you to better see if students have ‘got’ the intended messages and secondly, it can use positive peer influence which is often a stronger influence than a facilitator talking.
  • Project optimism and recognise that students possess untapped potential to stay safe on the road. Though the consequences of a crash are huge, young drivers and passengers have the power to reduce their risks if they implement RYDA messages. Fear or scare philosophy is not our approach, and neither is fatalism. Language is powerful – for example, use the word “crash” or “collision” instead of ‘accident’ which suggests an event that happens by chance or may be unavoidable.
  • Use inclusive language so that all students, regardless of gender and family structure, feel included.
  • Create and maintain the flow of the lesson. You need to appear highly organised in the presentation. Develop a powerful style of speaking that uses few verbal hesitancies such as “OK” or “you know”. Reduce the distance the between you and students by moving around, or moving away from barriers (e.g., desk, front table).
  • Understand your students by noticing the type of feedback you get during the session.
  • Try and find out what students know already and adapt the pace of the session if necessary. Give students the right amount of challenge, for example increasing the level/complexity of your questions for a more capable group. We can help you do this through the pre-survey we conduct with school which seeks to identify any road safety learning the students have participated in at school as well as any special community or learning needs for the cohort.
  • Find out what impact you are having. We collect feedback from teachers and students, but try getting quick informal feedback from teachers (“do you think the session achieves the learning outcomes?”) and students (“what did you take away as the main message of the session?”)
  • Show students what success looks like in relation to your session. For example in I in Drive, success might be that students had learned two or three strategies for speaking up and knew how to use them. Refer back to the learning outcomes for your session if you are unsure.
  • The facilitator should foster a safety ‘point of view’ at all times and not leave unsafe statements in class unchallenged. Pick up unsafe student comments – correct them in a non-judgemental way or throw it open for discussion. Similarly, the facilitator should be aware of their own language and avoid using terms that support or glorify poor road behaviour, ie, ‘slamming on the brakes’.