Written by Guest Blogger Karen Walker, Peer Education Intern
- What are the necessary components to a good peer education program?
- What are some important skills to have when delivering a peer education program?
- What are some difficult questions that may come up when delivering a peer education program? How do you plan to navigate those questions?
Before the Peer Education program comes to life, SSDPers must be fully equipped with a well-rounded knowledge base, unique perspectives, and resources to support them. Using SSDP Just Say Know and Training Curriculum resources, background research will be completed in advance; Peer Educators should study the materials, become confident in their ability to share information, and prepare for the presentation.
However, preparing for the presentation requires much more than memorizing facts; the facilitator must hone their public speaking skills and understand how to navigate sensitive subjects. Being aware that some information might invoke skepticism or resistance from the audience and knowing how to handle those situations will immensely prepare the Peer Educator for any surprises. While one will not be able to predict how the presentation is received, creating the most genuine and inclusive space possible will make the program more positive and productive.
With the help of the Training Curriculum and Just Say Know modules, SSDPers will already be well-versed in the content of the program. The most challenging part will be learning how to convey this content to audiences who will have varying amounts of knowledge on drug policy and drug use. It will be helpful to familiarize oneself with the audience and each person’s experience in drug education to achieve the program’s educational goals. The Peer Educator’s expertise will be boosted by reviewing the content, current news as it might relate to the content, and knowing how the content relates to different groups.
At the beginning of the program, the Peer Educator will lay out ground rules to structure the environment. Audience engagement is key to any successful presentation; the Peer Educator should ask questions and utilize comments or concerns to drive different concepts and stimulate the learning process. This is trickier than it may seem, and adapting to the audience is crucial to sparking engagement. Because these are more difficult skills to develop, practicing those skills ahead of time and utilizing campus resources such as public speaking labs can make a monumental difference in the outcome of the final program.
Finally, a Peer Educator must be aware of their own biases and be prepared to listen to differing opinions or conflicting experiences. Audience members will have varying levels of knowledge and experience using the substances being discussed. Some might have family members with substance use disorders, while some may have never met anyone with a substance use disorder. Individuals may have had fun or frightening experiences using the substance being discussed, and countless other differences in experiences and perspectives are possible. Listening and validating their experience will demonstrate a mature and accepting attitude on behalf of the facilitator. When faced with tough questions or comments, answer as thoroughly and honestly as you can, admit your own limitations, and promise to follow up with further information or refer the inquiring individual to another resource. The Peer Educator should always strive to keep the learning environment comfortable and open if difficult questions arise or personal experiences are shared. The role of the Peer Educator is to mediate conflicting ideas or experiences while supporting an open and respectful environment where the conversation can have a lasting impact for all.
You can get 15 points for responding to the Reflection Questions from this Training Curriculum module.
Check out ssdp.org/justsayknow for more information on peer education!
Interested in earning CAT points and getting involved?
- Respond to Reflection Questions on a Training Curriculum module (15 points)
- Submit suggestion for SSDP Training Curriculum (1 point per resource suggested)
- Create a Just Say Know module – contact Frances@ssdp.org (50 points)
- Present an SSDP Peer Education module (20 points)
- Collect evaluation from SSDP Peer Education (5 points per evaluation collected)
Direct students to resources on campus or in the community (5 points per student reached)