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Chief Jack's Galley

There's a place for people who laugh at nothing...


June 24th, 2005

(no subject) @ 07:28 pm

Well, this week has been a humbling and, let's face it, somewhat humiliating experience. I spent the last four days sitting in on a training class that had all of my students from last week in it, and every time the instructor for this week's class asked them a question about what I damn well know I told them about last week, they'd look at him as though they'd never heard of it. He'd ask them a question that they should have known, because I know that I had hammered on it time and again last week, and they'd look at him with blank stares. He'd point blank ask them if they had done something, and they'd look at him as if it were the first time they'd heard of it. Hell, there was a guy in this week's class that didn't even take last week's class, and he knew more than the people I had trained last week.

I can't for the life of me explain it. I feel as though either I didn't do what I was supposed to do, or that I'm so crappy at what I do that I should seriously consider doing something else for a living. I mean, it's not as though I was lying to them, and I know damned well that when I walked out of the classroom last Friday, they knew this stuff. How could they have forgotten everything?

I mean, it's easy to make excuses: I'm new with this material; I had to cut it back severely in order to meet my client's standard for number of Powerpoint slides to cover in a day; it was too much material to cover in a week, particularly given that I spent a day giving a half-assed overview of what they were going to spend all week this week doing; etc. etc. Even so, I feel as though more of the material should have sunk in than apparently did with this crowd.

I'm going to have to figure out what went wrong. Any thoughts?
 
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From:neonnurse
Date:June 24th, 2005 05:06 pm (UTC)
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Was there something about either the instructor or the students that might have made them reluctant to volunteer answers? Maybe they knew but didn't feel confident enough to be the one to stand up and answer first.
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From:john_holton
Date:June 24th, 2005 05:59 pm (UTC)
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That's all possible. They had all done their written assignments and got the answers right to all of the questions, and it would have been nearly impossible to answer the questions from this week without the training from last week, so I know that they caught on to some of it. There wasn't much of a language barrier, despite the fact that one learner was from Japan and another frm India.

I'm thinking that part of the problem was being locked in a semi-dark room watching Powerpoint slides for eight hours. They seemed to perk up pretty well when we played a game with them at about midweek, which gives me an idea for later. And, I think some of it is the whole philosophy of training that this company seems to have adopted. However, I'm finding myself having to rethink the way I present training material, and needing to find the forest among the trees, i.e. trying to see the desired result rather than getting hung up in the details of this application, of which there are many. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
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From:cadona
Date:June 24th, 2005 07:07 pm (UTC)
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I don't know what you are teaching but as someone that has been to several trainings this past month to cover similar material here are some thoughts:
*The first week long training had so much material that I could not assimilate all of it, I need the second training as a refresher for the first.
*Having to sit for long periods watching power point presentations was easier in the mornings than in the afternoons.
*Still after an hour or so I would have been more alert if we had little mini breaks. Maybe something were everyone stretches together.
*At the last training we had these little plastic hands that when shook clapped. It was a great way for the facilitators to keep everyone involved and awake. Anytime someone answered a question everyone used the clapper.

It is probably not you, in my experience as one of the folks being trained when there is more to cover than the trainer has time to cover the trainee does not have time to assimilate the information.
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From:john_holton
Date:June 25th, 2005 06:08 am (UTC)
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Thank you so much. This really helps. It reminds me of a number of things that I've learned over the years, but somehow forgotten: the "food coma" effect of lunch, Powerpoint hypnosis, the ten-pounds-in-a-five-pound bag syndrome, and especially focusing on the things for which the learner needs a facilitator's help to learn and letting them learn the bulk of it through exercises. I appreciate it!
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From:majkia
Date:June 25th, 2005 01:53 pm (UTC)
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Do you pass out questionnaires about how the class went at the end? Having th estudents tell you if you are giving them too much material to assimilate or maybe it's too basic helps. Then you can maybe figure out if their failure to pipe up in another class is about the material they didn't get or about the instructor.

A lot of students are reluctant to pipe up particularly if the instructor demeans them if they get things wrong. That's always a possiblity too.
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From:john_holton
Date:June 25th, 2005 04:41 pm (UTC)
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I learned a long time ago never to put someone down for giving a wrong answer. In fact, I generally encourage people to give whatever answer they have, even if it's wrong, because that gives me the feedback that I need and it creates a safe environment. You'd be surprised: I'm actually quite a nice person who's very concerned that people feel comfortable in the classroom. Perhaps a little too much so; I sometimes sacrifice control of the classroom as a result.

There was an incredible amount of material to cover, and that did come through on the "smile sheets". In retrospect, I should have been less concerned with making sure that they got it all and concentrated on the things that were really important. If I had to estimate it now, nearly half of what was in the training materials wasn't all that crucial, especially the material for the last day, which was covered in detail this week. If I had it to do over again, I'd have told my class that the last hundred or so pages of the material was a bird's eye view of what would be discussed in detail the following week, and if we got to it, fine, and if not, they'd be picking it up the following week, or they could pick it up on their own, and contact me if they had any questions.

The thing that I'm learning as I focus on doing this is that my instructor skills are rusty, and this past week, while a bit humbling, was nevertheless a good chance for me to observe someone else do the job and learn from what he was doing. So it was a good learning experience for me.
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From:majkia
Date:June 25th, 2005 07:06 pm (UTC)
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I certainly wasn't implying you would denegrate people who gave wrong answers. I meant that the instructor you were observing might be that sort.

And, as everyone knows, we learn much more from our mistakes than from our successes.
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From:john_holton
Date:June 26th, 2005 05:36 am (UTC)
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Oh, I know...I think what I was trying to say was that maybe I go a little too far in trying to create a comfortable atmosphere in the classroom, and I sacrifice control as a result. The guy who did this week's class is a little better at that. In fact, if I learned one thing, it was to make sure that I don't follow my instincts too much, and to go in with the idea that I'm the boss and not just "wing it" when I get in there, but not to sacrifice a good atmosphere for the sake of getting finished in the allotted time.

Your last comment reminds me of one of my favorite books: "Sinbad's Guide To Life (Because I Know Everything)". Turns out, the reason he knows everything is that he's screwed everything up half a dozen times...

Chief Jack's Galley

There's a place for people who laugh at nothing...