When students lead discussions, sometimes they will exceed your expectations and sometimes, despite all your prayers and coaching, they will bomb.
The good news, however, is that regardless of how well a discussion goes, with proper processing, student-led discussions can be a vehicle for faith formation. To facilitate this, meet one-on-one with your student within a week after she's led her discussion to help her process her experience. Use your time together to affirm your student's leadership and ask questions to help her reflect on and learn from her experience as a leader.
To do this, here are 13 questions you can ask students to help them process leading a discussion:
1. What surprised you (positively or negatively) about the discussion?
2. What went particularly well during your discussion? Why do you think this was?
3. Which of your questions elicited the best response from your peers? Why do you think this was?
4. When did you feel frustrated during your discussion?
5. When did you feel overwhelmed during your discussion?
6. How did you handle your frustrations during the discussion? Do you feel as though this worked well for you? If not, what might have worked better?
7. What, if anything, did you feel unable to manage or handle during your discussion? Why do you think this was? How could I have better supported you in that moment?
8. Did you feel well-prepared for your discussion? Why or why not?
9. What do you think people left your discussion thinking about? Why do you think this was?
10. What advice would you give to the next student who leads a discussion? Why?
11. What will you do differently the next time you lead a discussion?
12. What did you learn about yourself in this process?
13. Where did you encounter God during your discussion?
Helping students process their experience as a discussion leader enables them to learn and grow from their experience. Not only does this affirm their experience as a leader, but it also encourages and equips them to continue taking risks by leading discussions and small groups in the future.
In a day and age when people are increasingly concerned with whether or not the faith of young people will continue after high school graduation, equipping and giving students the opportunity to lead discussions may well be one of the greatest gifts we can give them and the church.
Read part 1 of this series, "Student-led discussions as vehicles for faith formation."
Read part 2 of this series, “How to equip students to lead discussions.”