Monday, April 09, 2007

Sharing on Workshop Strategies

by Elsie & Poh Heng on 9 April 2007 @ Vista Lab

9 Deadly sins of a Trainer & What makes a Good Trainer
  • Covering too much information - Don't be greedy! Overdosage does not lead to effectiveness or productivity. It kills. Be alert of the participants' reaction. Give them ample time to digest and clarify.
  • Leaving out emotion - show the humane side! haha... sounds terrible, as if trainers appear as some kind of colder robots. Well, learn it is good to show the human touch - eg. if participants came in early, do check with them if they have lunch already... though we don't offer lunch, it's good to show some level of concern. Also, when knowing that someone is not well, it's good to once in a while check it out with him/her... sending warmth to people in need helps to bridge with the participants.
  • Treating every audience the same - no one is the same... although the generic profile is the same (eg. all are HODs, all teach Maths), they are unique. Look out for strengths that we can tap on (create opportunity as a 'co-learner') and weaknesses that we must look out for to provide the necessary amount of support.
  • Inadequate preparation - leading to.... being tongue-tighted and superificial explanation. It loses the connection and practicality... can put people off, too! Of course, also an indication that we don't know our work. Knowing the work is not enough. Never, never deliver from a book or an article - well, we are not engaged to replicate the materials verbally. Participants can read for themselves. One of the easiest way to connect is really to provide examples in an environment that they are familiar with, application or observation in their classrooms... It generates buy-in, too.
  • Poor pacing - lost track of time. This calls for knowing the workshop materials well and being able to be flexible in readjusting the workshop proper. Of course, have to think of ways to overcome this problem - perhaps a timekeeper would be useful.
  • Distracting Habits - that reminds me of my Secondary School teacher, Ms Teo - more of the time looking at the big ear-rings and matching colour dress + big belt + shoes. Of course, also times when people keep repeating the same word, eg. "OK". Raise our 'public self-awareness', get feedback to improve on that.
  • Lack Enthusiasm - it tells and it influences... don't sound draggy... else the participants will also 'drag' through the workshop... they will not appreciate what is useful being communicated to them during the workshop.
  • Argue with a participant - beware of the words to use, beware of where the participant is coming from (including the profile/background). That reminds me of the Spreadsheet workshop that took place at Juying Primary.
  • Not keeping your agreements - always return to the workshop objective, never over promise, don't promise about the dismissal time!
Challenging Situations
  • From the challenging situations and possible ways to resolve them, I think the most useful part is to remind ourselves that - whenever possible, 'throw' the ball back to the participant and his/her school, especially in terms of training.
  • This reminded me of 2 situations: (a) The GSP workshop whereby the group of young teachers whom I encountered: They were sent for the workshop, while they signed up for the GSP workshop, they were also nominated to attend another workshop on the 1st day of the GSP workshop. Among them, one turned up for 1 out of 3 sessions and have the cheek to ask for the Certificate of Participation. Of course, unhappy over the fact that it was not issued to her and started blaming the school. Well, well, well... of course, could only advise them to work out the issues back in the school. (b) In the I-E approach workshop, 3 teachers from a 'pilot' school signed up for the workshop and started to complain about the distance and having to go through similar activity. Well, whose fault? They asked if can withdraw... well, asked them to call up the workshop administer... haa... for similar situation next time, will re-direct them to their ROs!
Share a Strategy

  • One strategy I heard alot but have not tried before - and experienced it today is "Send-a-Problem". Interesting way to generate ideas, without knowing what others have proposed and feel free to add on. The collection of inputs also provides an indication on the common 'solutions' people will adopt.
  • On the other hand, given the 'range' of possible solutions - in the process of prioritising or indicating the most preferred choice, it does tell us something about ourselves - of course, one has to be frank about his/her choice, not because the choice is deemed to be the most politically correct answer.

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