Ten tips for new Trainers/Teachers

Every now-and-then you come across an article that is worth reading over and over… the kind of article that you want to come back to it in a months time to reflect on how you’ve changed since reading it… so it is for me with post Ten tips for new Trainers/Teachers on the Creating Passionate Users blog (Thanks Ian for the link!)

As well as some expected tips on learning styles, cognition, minimising lectures and using games, the post also has some unexpected tips like:

Know why–and how–good stories work.

Consider the learner to be on a kind of hero’s journey. If Frodo is your student, and you’re Gandalf… learn as much as you can about storytelling and entertainment. Learn what screenwriters and novelists learn. Know what “show don’t tell” really means, and understand how to apply it to learning.

… something I’d love to work on! And this one:

Most classroom-based instruction can be dramatically improved by reducing the amount of content!. Give them the skills to be able to continue learning on their own, rather than trying to shove more content down their throats.

If your students leave feeling like they truly learned — like they seriously kick ass because they can actually do something useful and interesting, they’ll forgive you (and usually thank you) for not “covering all the material”. The trainers that get cricism for not covering enough topics or “finishing the course topics” are the ones who didn’t deliver a good experience with what they did cover.

… and something I’ve been struggling with for the past two years:

For classroom trainers, the greatest challenge you have is managing multiple skill and knowledge levels in the same classroom! Be prepared to deal with it.

followed by some great tips for dealing with this situation, such as multi-level hint sheets.

And here’s another pearler:

Designing exercises

The best execises include an element of surprise and failure. The worst exercises are those where you spend 45 minutes explaining exactly how something works, and then have them duplicate everything you just said. Yes, that does provide practice, but it’s weak. If you design an exercise that produces unexpected results… something that intuitively feels like it should work, but then does something different or wrong — they’ll remember that FAR more than they’ll remember the, “yes, it did just what she said it would do” experience.

oh… i can’t stop… go and read the article before I copy the whole thing in here…

Leave your ego at the door. This is not about you.

Your learners do NOT care about how much you know, how smart you are, or what you’ve done. Aside from a baseline level of credibility, it’s far more important that you care about how smart THEY are, what THEY know (and will know, thanks to this learning experience) and what THEY have done. I’m amazed (and horrified) by how many instructors don’t ever seem to get to know anything about their students. You should know far more about them than they know about you.

and to finish off:

Your passion will keep them awake. Your passion will be infectious. It’s up to you to figure out how to stay passionate, or quit teaching until you get it back.

And finally, don’t think of yourself as a teacher or trainer… since that puts the focus on what YOU do….

If you’re interested in facilitating learning experiences… go and read Ten tips for new Teachers/Trainers!

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