How you present AGING BY THE BOOK will depend on your organization’s resources and structure. Here are some tips about details, agreements, and structure that will help your program be a success.
Size of group: maximum 10, plus facilitators. Our groups have been “closed,” with no new participants after week two. This protects the growing trust among the participants. It usually means we end the session with fewer members: some people will drop out due to interest level or personal scheduling issues.
Length: Our groups run for six weeks, for 90 minutes.
Promotion: In Ottawa, the Ottawa Public Library has promoted the program with posters in branches and on their website. Additional promotion through community bulletins and newspapers spreads the word beyond library users.
Registration: The Ottawa Public Library registers participants through their online system, and keeps a waiting list in case participants drop out during the first two weeks.
Physical set-up: Ideally, reading circle participants meet in a room with a door that can be closed, and sit around a table facing each other.
Name tags should be provided.
Agreements (Program Ground Rules)
Briefly repeating these agreements each week will help participants focus, and appreciate the group’s purpose. They can be as simple as:
- We begin and end on time.
- Everyone’s opinion is valuable.
- Confidentiality: other than facilitator comments, what’s said in the room stays in the room.
- “Share the Air.” If you know yourself to be someone who talks a lot, or, on the contrary, someone who holds back, monitor your participation accordingly.
- Please turn off your phone!
Your group may have additional items; these are basic ones.
Opening the session
A reminder that we are here to respond to this week’s readings about aging, and in collaboration, to explore how the readings relate to our own experiences.
Our agreements (or ground rules) about confidentiality, etc.
A focusing exercise (eg, 5 deep breaths with eyes closed)
A first question (as specific or general as you like)
Closing the session:
Ask: “Briefly, what is ONE THING you’ll take away from this week’s session? Maybe something someone else said, or something from the readings….” (Model this if need be)
Here is a sample agenda for a weekly session.