My experience as a peer facilitator this semester was very unique. Not only was it my first time ever peer facilitating, but it was also my (and everyone else’s) first time having to PF remotely and transition to online instruction/mentorship. Though this sudden transition presented its own set of challenges, my training and the guidance I received from more experienced PFs taught me to approach the situation with adaptability and open-mindedness.

    The six week PF training program definitely made me feel more prepared to teach and guide student project teams. The training covered topics ranging from conflict resolution strategies to being conscious of student identities, both visible and invisible ones, and how they might impact the classroom setting or student projects/stakeholders. Overall, the training was very diversified--I was able to participate in workshops, engage in role-play exercises with my fellow PFs, and get practice organizing group activities/“energizers” on the spot. Overall, the PF training program equipped me with the public speaking and interpersonal skills I needed to help successfully facilitate my first semester ALA 175. It also was a great way for me to get to know my team and all the PFs better.

    Though I was only able to teach one in-person class before all classes switched to remote formats, being able to compare in-class instruction with virtual instruction and what each type of instruction entailed was beneficial and helped me grow as a mentor. In class, I helped facilitate the gallery walk and give student project teams direction and guidance; after the class moved online, I focused on mentoring one project team and serving as the liaison between them and BLI/Michigan resources. I made sure my team was aware of the opportunities available to them to expand the scope of their project, such as the BLI’s newsletter/marketing channels and existing nutrition-related groups on campus. My biggest priority was making sure my team was aware of how flexible our deadlines were so none of them would feel even more overwhelmed during this increasingly stressful period. I made sure to answer their questions during one-on-one meetings and grant extensions as needed. Overall, my unique first-time experience as a PF taught me that flexibility, empathy, and open-mindedness are essential traits for any instructor/mentor to display--not only during times of crisis, but in general as well.