Following my previous Anti-Patterns of Training post, here are more mistakes trainers can make. When viewed through the lens of Sharon Bowman’s Training from the BACK of the Room! we see that these go against how brain science tells us we learn best.
Too Far Out of My Comfort Zone
You turn up on day 1 of a course, have the usual quick coffee and share a smile with your fellow learners. In the opening moments of the training, the trainer asks a difficult, direct question to the group. It comes in the form “Who can tell me about <a very important concept about this training>?” Everyone gets put on edge and stares at their notepads. The tension in the room rises as the entire cohort tries to shrink to such a small size that the trainer can’t see them. Confused by why no-one has answered this question, the trainer calls an attendee out by name — “Hey… John is it? What do you think?” John flies into a blind panic and wishes that the ground would swallow him up. The trainer loses the group for the next 20 minutes as they metabolise their adrenalin.
Build psychological safety in the room. Get learners talking to each other in pairs or small groups as soon as possible. Warm people up to the task and provide safe opportunities to speak. Don’t put people in a panic by putting them on the spot. When asking the room for answers, gratefully accept and encourage all responses and gently correct those that are wrong.
Death by Powerpoint
Slide 451 of the deck and the room is drifting in to sleep. You haven’t reached the point in the deck that says “Time for Lunch” so you press on regardless. You have to cover all the concepts in the slide deck and there’s a lot to cover. Finally you reach a point where you can break. Your learners get out of the training space as quickly as possible, only for you to drag them back in when the allotted time is up.
Often times we trainers pack ridiculous amounts of information into slide decks. It’s easier for us to lecture off slides than to come up with some other activities. Here are two things we can do to cut our slide decks down to size: — Prioritise what you need to teach by choosing the 20% that is “need to know”. Provide opportunities to learn the 80% in follow up, recommended reading, homework, etc. — Break information out of the slides and convert it into activities.
Glued to My Seat
It’s been a long day. You’ve only moved from your seat during breaks and you are starting to feel sluggish to say the least. Your concentration is waning and you are not sure how much you have taken in during this session. You crave the next break so you can re-engage.
We know that the brain needs a lot of oxygen to function at its best. Get your learners to move around as often as you can. When students have to follow steps off slides, screen or book, break the steps up with stretches. Get people to seek out people that they are not sitting with and pair up to do the task. Simply getting learners to stand up and stretch increases the bloodflow to the brain. This jolt of oxygen which will help retention of new knowledge and improve the energy in the room. It’s a simple thing to try in any format of class.