Monday, 19 November 2012

Train the Trainer:considering early years training and consulting

Working with adults in any sector is a specialist job, requiring its own set of skills and competencies.  My experience in the early year’s sector is that no matter how much knowledge and experience of a subject we have, this alone does not equip us to inspire and empower others.

After attending two training sessions myself, in one week, some years ago, I was stimulated to write about what it means to be an effective trainer, because I learned so little from both of these sessions.

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 can’t achieve this too, but sadly, on this occasion 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 believe that every event needs to have the potential to make a real difference to practice. You might consider:  
What are they expecting?

What are the key principles you are communicating?

What are your intentions and planned outcomes?

How will you plan for affective engagement, cognitive processing and behavioural outcomes?

How will you foster safety in the session for all to share their thoughts and  ideas?

Here are 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? 

Open your presentation with an activity which immediately engages participants and helps them to recall their own experience 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 engage visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learners.

Plan activities which help the participants to apply new learning and consider 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 metaphors.

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, and let them know you are interested to work with them.

Remember your body language and voice tone, pitch, pace, volume non-verbal communication is providing around 80% of the message that will be received....Give eye contact. Move purposefully, stand straight.

Becoming a master communicator takes continuous comittment to our own development. It seems there is now some support in the form or a new association being formed, for new and experienced trainers and consultants to raise the bar!

I spoke to Laura Henry MD of Childcare Consultancy recently and also received her invitation to attend the launch of the National Early Years Trainers’ and Consultants’ Organisation (NEYTCO): a new initiative with the aim of raising standards in training across the UK. I seems that over fifty people have expressed an interest in this initiative.

Unfortunately, I will not attend the first meeting because I will be away in Norfolk, but I will attend future meetings, hope to see you there.

Just in case you didn’t receive your invitation, the inaugural session for NEYTCO is being held at the head office of the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), 121 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4LX on Friday 23rd November 2012, 12 – 2pm.

To book your place at this event email

See you at the next meeting


No comments:

Post a Comment