By Brody Bassett ’25 (DCI Fellow)
Going into my second semester of being a DCI facilitator, I was very excited to host my first D-Team of the new year! Before my D-Team, I made sure to look over my suggested self-improvements from last semester. Amidst the comments of stop fidgeting, sit up straight, and smile was buried the comment: “take notes.” While the comment seemed simple at first, I realized it held a lot of value. Notetaking allows the facilitator to record important ideas to follow up on and allows the facilitator to fade into the background.
In my previous DCI facilitator events, I always took notes but did not give them much attention. Notetaking was simply an extension of my memory, and from my notes, I was able to pull relevant questions and pose them to my group. The exercise of taking notes was helpful to me because while my brain was busy making sure DCI agreements were followed and monitoring everyone’s speaking time, I could simply write down important points brought up to the deliberation. This allowed me to put my main focus on the fluidity of the deliberation. When the time came, I had an abundance of questions to choose from to continue the conversation.
Simply, notetaking acts as an extension of the brain, so the facilitator can solely focus on maintaining the agreements and learning environment of the deliberation.
Secondly, the practice of taking notes allows the facilitator to fade into the background of the deliberation. By notetaking, the facilitator starts to resemble a scribe. A member of the group talks about their thoughts on a specific topic, and the facilitator diligently records the central point for comparison with other people’s ideas. It is important to state, however, that the facilitator must be careful not to become a scribe and remember that they are in charge of maintaining a good environment for deliberation. So the difference between a scribe and a facilitator is that the facilitator interjects comments in the deliberation to keep it on track and oriented towards the expected outcomes.
Keeping that thought in mind, the act of notetaking helps put the facilitator more at the same level as the members of the deliberation. The deliberators respect the facilitator’s advice and direction of the conversation while the facilitator respectfully records the main comments from the discussion to provide important points to return to later in the deliberation. This reinforces the idea that the facilitator is present not to simply direct and lead the conversation but to facilitate listening and sharing among the group, and will fade into and out of the conversation as needed to do so. Notetaking helps the facilitator remind the group of questions and ideas to consider.
At the time of writing this blog, my D Team has just finished the meeting, and I used my notetaking tactic. By notetaking, I was able to focus on maintaining a productive deliberation environment, and I found myself able to produce relevant questions for my group members to continue the conversation. Overall, I think notetaking is a valuable tool for a facilitator to use during their deliberations.