5 top tips for running sensitive workshops.
We run frequent tailored sessions on a wide range of topics including identity, sexual relationships, puberty, bullying, drugs and safety with deaf groups and with professionals from the education, health and social care sectors. Through these courses we have identified some tips for running sensitive workshops...
Context: Detailed discussions in advance to agree expectations is vital. It’s helpful to share an outline of content (eg lesson plans), especially in a school context so that teachers can prepare students, and see how it fits with the curriculum. And knowing the background of the pupils and the physical setting will help in establishing a safe and effective environment.
Timing: This is a tricky issue. A well planned session needs to allow enough time for exploration of issues and for group work and class discussion. And with many mixed abilities and varied needs in the classes, the Q&A can take significant time. It’s not unusual for individual pupils to request 1:1 time after the class.
Flexibility: We’ve come to expect the unexpected. Not only could some words and concepts (STI, consent) be new to the pupils, but basic misunderstandings have to be addressed. Also, the responses from participants are a constant source of surprise and challenge.
Stimulus: It’s really important to use the right visual aids, and materials which encourage participation and involvement. These are interactive workshops and hands-on practical time using real items (condoms, tampons) are excellent for prompting comments and questions.
Role model: Some of the topics may be challenging or potentially embarrassing for students and teachers, so having the best workshop leaders is critical. Participants need to be able to relate to the tutors: cultural fit, empathy, and relevant experience all play their part. Offering a real deaf perspective, the right people will provide instruction, role play and inspiration, generating results and progress which are rewarding for all.
"Offered voice and BSL so accessible and inclusive to all"
". . . lovely to have other deaf role models in school"