The FDW (Facilitators Development Workshop) – Monica Vesely

ISW Logo

During the last week in May (May 25-29, 2015), ten participants dedicated a week of their time to become trained as Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) facilitators. These now certified facilitators came from a number of institutions – Guelph, McMaster, OCAD, Wilfrid Laurier and Waterloo Universities –to complete the Facilitator Development Workshop (FDW) at the University of Waterloo with their local colleagues. This is the third time the FDW has been held at the University of Waterloo – the previous offerings took place in May 2011 and May 2013.

The Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) is a comprehensive three-tiered instructor development program designed to enhance the teaching effectiveness of both new and experienced educators. The Facilitator Development Workshop (FDW) is the second tier of this program, where participants develop the capacity to lead the Instructional Skills Workshop. Completion of the ISW is a typical prerequisite to the FDW.

The prerequisite Instructional Skills Workshop is an intense 24-hour peer-based workshop that involves participants in cycles of mini-lessons accompanied by written, verbal and video feedback. It challenges the participants to explore new approaches to their teaching while at the same time being intentional about their lesson planning approach. The program started in 1978 in British Columbia and subsequently spread across Canada and the US. It is now an internationally recognized and facilitated program.

The five-day Facilitator Development Workshop is designed for individuals who have completed the Instructional Skills Workshop and who will be conducting the ISW Program at their institution. The activities of the ISW form the nucleus of the FDW as participants develop new knowledge and techniques for facilitating group development, explore other teaching methods and formative evaluation techniques, and receive feedback on their own teaching and facilitating skills. As with the ISW, the FDW is a peer-based model providing participants a small group setting in which to work on their facilitation skills. The small groups meet in plenary sessions each day featuring such themes as preferred ways of learning, group development, and the use of questions in teaching, among others. The FDW provides an opportunity for individuals to concentrate on their own professional development in a challenging and supportive atmosphere. Some chairpersons participate in the FDW to enhance their competence in providing constructive feedback for their teaching colleagues. Upon completion of the FDW, participants can become part of a larger instructional development network.

The third level of the tier is the Trainer Development Workshop (TDW) where individuals who have completed the Facilitator Development Workshop and who have led several Instructional Skills Workshops develop their skills to offer the Facilitator Development Workshop.

If you are an ISW alumni and are interested in becoming an ISW facilitator, I encourage you to contact me, Monica Vesely ( to have your name added to our waiting list. If you are interested in taking the Instructional Skills Workshop, please visit the CTE events page for future offerings. Our next ISW is scheduled for August 18-21, 2015.