Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Train the Trainer

How many trainers working in the education sector really consider how adults learn when they plan and deliver their sessions?

I have attended so many events where the presenters have a wealth of experience and knowledge, but they present this in a way that does not engage me for any length of time. I remember little or nothing of what they shared after the event.

I also listen during the breaks, to the comments of participants and I hear minimal discussion about what is being presented, instead they talk about the delights that may be served with tea and coffee and what they might expect for lunch!

Last week I attended two events.

During one session the presenters spent virtually the whole morning from 9.00 until 12.30 sharing their own stories, showing photographs and a short video clip. They did ask us to engage in one activity which involved us talking to each other, but limited time was allowed and the focus and purpose of the activity was not clear and did not seem to connect to what followed, which was more photographs and more of their own stories!

There were a few confident participants who interrupted the presentation to share their own thoughts and the presenters did acknowledge their thoughts, they appeared interested and were affirming, but the opportunity for shared thinking passed, there was no facilitation of a discussion and the presentation continued without participant engagement. Personally, I found the session frustrating, probably because I am passionate about group learning;the "Gestalt" is so important. This is not to say that presenting from the front cant achieve this too, but sadly, on this occassion although the content the trainers shared was really great practice,I did not feel engaged or stimulated to explore new ideas.

The second event I attended was even more frustrating, for two hours I sat and listened while the presenter read from the handout booklet.

I really do think that it is time for the education sector to ensure that the trainers they are engaging do know how to identify the needs of the participants and how to engage them and to plan and deliver sessions that facilitate the learning and development of the participants attending. I believe that every event needs to have the potential to make a real difference to practice.

So here are just a few tips for trainers...

Have a clear aim for your session and objectives
Produce an agenda showing logical progression of your session
Know your audience
What do they want to know?
What are they expecting?

Engage the three learning domains affective, cognitive and behavoural...through a variety of teaching strategies

Open your presentation with an activity which immediately engages participants and helps them to recall their own expereince about the topic.

Facilitate discussion and spend time forming the group so that people feel comfortable to contribute.

When you present information use a range of mediums and words that engage all people this means enaging visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learners.

Plan activities which help the participants to apply new learning and consdier how they might implement this back in the workplace.

Remember how important the environment is. The decor, lighting, air, furniture layout, positioning of audio and visual aids.

Engage both sides of the brain. Left side logic, reasoning and analysis.
Right side creativity, imagination, colour, synthesis.

Give breaks and provide water.

Help participants remember by repeating regularly, emphasising points unusually, demonstrating, role playing, using metaphores.

Build rapport quickly with tone, gesture, eye contact, using their language.

Whether it is the first of 100th time you have met and worked with a group, greet them individually, be warm and genuine, let them know you are interested to work with them. Give eye contact. Move purposefully, stand straight.

Remember your body language and voice tone, pitch, pace, volume non-verbal communication is providing around 95% of the message that will be received....

Here is one book that may give you further tips.....

Good luck

1 comment:

  1. At a recent conference about children’s thinking the presenter, the acclaimed author Marion Dowling, talked about early years practitioners needing to be 'sparkly thinkers'. She described a situation she had observed in a reception class, who had been learning about Goldilocks and the three bears. When it was time to review their learning the teacher didn’t fire questions at the children but chose to dress up as ‘Mrs Locks’ who had lost her daughter ‘Goldie’. By using this subterfuge she was able to ask the children quite naturally what her ‘daughter’ had been doing and what had happened next. This teacher was described by Marion as a ’sparkly thinker’, and she commented about why it is so important that practitioners should understand children’s thinking processes and then use this in their work. As she stated - “we can’t compel children to engage”. I would like to apply this to adult learners.

    As a trainer I hope that I am a 'sparkly thinker' who is able to recognise when I am engaging the participants in my workshops and when I have lost their interest. I would also hope that I have the knowledge and ability to switch teaching styles within delivery to maintain that engagement. Whilst I might not be tempted to dress up as Mrs Locks (although I have been know to dress up as a spider in the past!!!) to grab my audiences attention, the core of my delivery relies in understanding the learning process (which after all is the same for children and adults) and ensuring that whatever learning style participants favour - I can meet their learning needs.

    Like Tracy, I am saddened when, attending training and conferences delivered by exceptionally knowledgeable people from whom I want to learn, I begin to struggle to maintain focus and concentration because my learning style is not being facilitated. Death by power point is unfortunately still a relevant phrase for many participants at early years workshops, and when their background is in being active, creative and 'sparkly' with the children it seems doubly inappropriate that their learning is not catered for in the same way. Dare I say 'Practice what you preach' to those trainers who are trying to motivate their audience to work actively with the children and yet still rely heavily or even solely on talking at their audience and reading from slides?

    For many years Tracy and I have discussed facilitating a 'train the trainers' series, perhaps now is the right time to offer this to all those trainers out there who would like to be 'sparkly thinkers' and achieve active learning for their adult audiences. Watch this space!