Selecting, adapting or creating appropriate methodsSkill to choose, adapt or create an appropriate methodUnderstanding and facilitating individual and group learning process

Cool method – let’s do it

Quotations of participants of training courses: “Cool method – let’s do it”, “It has worked the last time – let’s do it again”, “Shall we try some new simulation?”
This is exactly what you should not do.

Different methods help a youth worker do specific pedagogic interventions. Methods are tools. One needs to be able to use it and know how to use it. There are no good or bad methods. A method is only effective when it is used at the right time and in the right place.

In order to select methods and to successfully use them, it is necessary to have clearly formed the goals of the group and/or the team of group leaders. The goals need to be adapted to the present situation (here and now). If there is no clear objective, the group members will find it more difficult to accept the method because they cannot understand its purpose. Often, when the purpose of a method is not clear, the method is treated as a game and the pedagogical objectives of an educator are lost. Adopting a method means understanding its purpose, participating and gaining new experience. When working with young people, methods are used for individual development and social learning.

A method itself is by no means a goal and is not only a game. Trainers must take methods seriously as a space for learning and experimenting. When putting methods into practice, a work atmosphere must be always maintained. A work atmosphere means a safe atmosphere where team members are able to get rid of their fears, gain new experience and learn from it. In order to learn, it is important to discuss the gained experience. Sufficient time must be devoted to reflection as discussion is the main part of a method – it helps the participants perceive the experience gained and is the key to making the learning process successful.

Why did I choose this tool?

It was not easy to think about how I create a method as I create methods and I came up with an idea of analyzing methods. In this tool the skill could be practice in analyzing methods and knowing how the method is constructed. I do believe this practice can help to train the skill to select an appropriate method.

How does this apply to being a trainer?

It is much easier to use a method if a person has experienced personally how it works. It makes it easier to understand what the group members are experiencing. But we encourage you to be brave enough to carefully try new methods – this is the only way for us and for the young people to gain new valuable experience. If you are not sure about the method you are using, you can be honest with the group and invite it to try a new method, then, discuss its advantages and the ways to apply it in the future.

Main content:

TASK for training your skill to choose, adapt or create an appropriate method

Stretch your mind and try to juggle by adapting different methods (by) in different circumstances.

A method could be created in a certain manner: By having the objective of the method, the needed materials, the recommended group size, duration and course of action.

Case no 1.

It is the 2nd day of the training about project management for international youth workers. Group size is 28 participants, aged 25-65. The main aim of the day is to identify project management culture.

Evaluate: which method will be the most suitable for this case?

For the evaluation use the SWOT analysis. Methods to analyze are given “World cafe”; “Colleagues’ Consulting“.

Brief instructions on how to make SWOT analysis:

  • Strengths and weakness are frequently internally-related, while opportunities and threats commonly focus on the external environment. The name is an initialism for the four parameters the technique examines:
  • Strengths: characteristics of the method that give it an advantage over others.
  • Weaknesses: characteristics of the method that place the method at a disadvantage relative to others.
  • Opportunities: elements in the environment that the method could exploit to its advantage.
  • Threats: elements in the environment that could cause trouble for adapting the method.

Methods to analyze/choose:

Method no. 1 „World Café“

The aim of the method: Discussing questions raised and finding a solution.

The idea of a café refers to a widely used method “World Café”.

  • A World Café is a meeting place of youth initiative developers who gather here after realizing what motivates them to actively participate in youth activities. In the meeting they discuss and consult each other on specific actions that can satisfy their needs.
  • When working, participants try to comply with “etiquette rules and guidelines” applicable in a café community: to converse with a goal; to listen carefully; to concentrate attention on what is important; to listen and try to understand; to talk by following one’s mind and heart; to contribute with ideas; to try to join ideas; to draw, write, mark on “tablecloths”; to have a good time.
  • The room is prepared. Tables are chairs are arranged. The number of tables has to match the number of groups; the number of chairs should match the number of group members.
  • A large sheet of paper and writing materials in different colors should be put on every table.
  • The group is divided into smaller groups of 5-6. Group members take their places at the tables.
  • “Etiquette rules and guidelines” applicable in the café are introduced to the group.
  • Groups discuss their topics for 10-15 minutes. All findings are put on the “tablecloth” (paper sheet). At the end of this task the group decides who the “master” of the table will be and what information s/he will have to transfer. The master’s function is telling the new people what their group has discussed. The table “master” is a different person every time.
  • After 10-15 minutes all participants (except the master) stand up and find new places at other tables.
  • Every time the participants change the table they listen to its master and respond to the information received. Everything is also written on “tablecloths”.
  • This action is repeated until everyone visits each table.
  • At the end, every group presents final variants of “tablecloths” to each other.
  • In order to create café ambience you can use background music and bring snacks to participants.
  • Adapted according to “World Café”.
  • The method has many variations and is fairly wide. It can be applied to the discussion of other topics.
  • For more information on this method please these websites:

Method no. 2 „Colleagues’ Consulting“

Finding solutions to possible problems by using group resources – getting advice from group members

  • Developing active listening skills
  • Learning to discuss constructively
  • Unlimited
  • Area big enough for the number of participants divided into groups of 3, paper sheets, writing materials, a watch
  • 45 minutes for consultation, 20 minutes for discussion
  • The group is divided into smaller groups of 3.

The structure is presented:

  • 1 person speaks, others stay silent (up to 5 minutes)
  • 1 person stays silent, others give their suggestions (up to 5 minutes)
  • All participants discuss the problems that have arisen and their possible solutions (up to 5 minutes)
  • After 15 minutes group members swap roles and other members present their problems.

Discussion questions:

  • Were consultations with colleagues useful and if so, how?
  • What was difficult/easy when conducting discussions in such a structured manner? Why?
  • What main problems were solved?

Reflection questions:

  • What did you learn from the exercise?
  • How SWOT analysis of methods helped you to know more about methods? Did it broaden your understanding and approach about methods and their use? If not, why not?

Author of the article: Agne Kvikliene

 Agne Kvikliene – professional IT project manager who sometimes works as a trainer helping people to build organizational changes, strategies and ensure the quality.  She had been working with training programmes and coordinated national trainers’ pool at National Agency of EU programmes for youth. While having experience in training, educating people she initiated training quality standards and raised the topic of trainers competences development. The biggest achievement for her was to lead Eastern partnership youth forum which was a milestone for the strengthening the quality of the non-formal education and the partnership among the EU and EaP countries. It became a continuous activity happening once in a two year.

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Editor: Donatas Petkauskas

is professional supervisor, coach and experiential learning trainer, having more than 15 years of experience in consulting various organizations and individuals, creating and conducting training course on national and international levels. Donatas has extensive experience in non-formal education, training of youth workers and trainers. He is working in the field of non-formal education since 2003, since 2004 he is a member of trainers pool of Lithuanian National Agency (currently an alumni).

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Methods descriptions which are used for the case analysis are taken from HANDBOOK FOR PEOPLE WORKING WITH YOUTH GROUPS: Non-formal education practice in Lithuania Ž.Gailius, A. Malinauskas, D. Petkauskas, L. Ragauskas, 2014Idea of exercise and article belongs to the author Agne KviklienePhoto by Susan Holt Simpson on Unsplash

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