Unique Teams with a Three-Day Timeframe
by Alejandro DeJesus,
PAC Lead Mentor Coordinator
Sunday morning, 8:00 am, and I am already in the car. For some of the people that I am driving by, their destination is church. My destination is only similar because some people pray there that they get through the long lines and possible delays. I get to the airport and find the quietest spot possible that still has an electrical outlet. I meet my learner for our second mentoring call and have enough time to use the restroom before I board my flight. My mindset switches to focus on the trainer certification course that lays ahead.
Being a PAC mentor involves travel, huddles, and a flexibility that Gumby would be jealous of. The team gathers for dinner on Sunday evening and catches up with one another. A huddle afterwards to run through the planned agenda for the first day of the certification course. Five people from different states (Michigan, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Washington) share their insights, and come to a consensus on the plan for eighteen different people from across ten different states to learn and grow. The team heads to their hotel rooms to rest and get ready for the next day. I head to mine but only to answer a few emails before heading back down to meet my Uber driver.
I use my Positive Personal Connector to share where I am from and ask where he is from. We spend the ride talking about Afghanistan and how he would go back if it was safe for him there. For three hours I push the certification course out of my head and let it fill with the euphoria of salsa music and dance steps. At each cert course I travel to, I try PAC’ing in something fun that is not related to a cert course. One more Uber ride and an early alarm.
6:15 am comes early no matter what time zone you are in. I am using those wonderful PPA skills once again as our learners start to trickle into the certification course at 7:45. The course starts flying by and before we know it, we are at the second break of the day, about 2 pm. Only about three more hours to go for the course. Our team wraps up our last objectives and exhale as one day is done. Our work moves from this room to a hotel restaurant where we debrief. Sharing the uh-ohs and ah-has from the course. I am thankful that there is a team around me that has been able to reflect for themselves and our efforts as a group. The learner feedback provides us with questions to ponder for the next day and confirmation that there was new awareness and skill taken away. We take the plan for day two and the team helps to form it into a refined structure that will hold up the team and the learners throughout the next day of training.
More hours of sleep than the previous night but this time up at 5:00 am. A revamp of the plan in written form and the requested lines of information for each agenda item to be added to the plan as requested by the team members. 8:40 am and the mentor team is already in their first breakout group. I float to the different groups to support and I kneel on the floor to check off the first agenda item. Lunch time is our opportunity to meet for an extended time as a team. GEMS® state check time – only moments of Diamond and a flicker of Emerald. The learners are asked to do the same check in with themselves.
The day is almost done and a learner shouts, “Oh darn, I’m wiping tears.” Teepa’s message to future PAC trainers is emotional and inspiring. We wrap the day and return the room to the state it was in before we started our two-day cert course journey. A toast to the team, we made it! Before the food comes, we read and digest the learners’ surveys avoiding the margarita and beer glasses in front of us. The two days are finished but we are not done with our work. We will continue to discuss the things that have happened at this course, continue the relationships that we started with the learners, ponder more on what we could improve, and meet another team of PAC mentors in the future to start another journey together. Each team is unique, but the goal is the same, providing support for learners to learn and change in an effort to help others.
The 2-day trainer course by the numbers…
- Hours in the air: 6
- Hours at the training site: 18
- Hours spent in huddles with the team to plan, reflect, and prepare: 5.5
- Time spent creating and tweaking the agenda for day 2: 2.5
- Cups of coffee I had: 6 (please note I did not include the size of the cups)
- Number of messages in our group text: 96
- Number of souvenir t-shirts purchased by the mentors: 2
- Baskets of chips eaten at Mexican restaurants: 6
Alejandro is the Lead Mentor Coordinator for PAC. Additionally, he is also a lead mentor and support mentor for PAC on certification courses. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from Baker College in Michigan and a Master’s degree in English as a Second Language Curriculum and Instruction through Arizona State University. He has been a PAC employee since 2016 and enjoys being able to use his teaching background to help care partners with their PAC certification.