At the beginning of all our training programs, Gina and I introduce ourselves by sharing with our learner groups that between the two of us we have fifty years’ worth of experience training others …which Gina always ends by saying we started when we were 2!! I wish!
Fifty years adds up to a lot of learning along the way, especially when it comes to training others to train, and not all of what we have garnered through working with groups of learners is what you might read in formal text books. Don’t get us wrong the bibliography is what we go back to and recommend but nothing can beat what has been learned through application, feedback and continuous improvement.
So over the coming blogs we hope to share with you some nuggets of wisdom from the training room that some of our learners would have heard us say more than once about training others or if you like a key learning points (and we will say more on that in another blog)
So to start the proverbial ball rolling let’s start with Nugget number one.
In a nutshell your role as a trainer is to make complex information simple to understand.
Albert Einstein is attributed as saying “”Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, But Not Simpler.” What we experience in our programs are learners who are subject matter experts in their field and are thus chosen to pass on their excellence in knowledge and skill. However this sometime creates a problem, which is commonly called the novice expert divide (We will be coming back to that at a later point). Simply put (and that is the theme today) in the trainers eyes because they know so much about their complex topic that they work on a daily basis, there is a chasm of a gap between their knowledge and skills and their learners knowledge and skills and it can be challenging if not downright impossible at times for them to assist someone else attain those knowledge and skills.
So back to knowing what your role is, First and foremost as a trainer your knowledge and skills is what has you in the role as trainer, but now you are there, you have got to find ways to make your topic easy to for someone who knows less than you to understand, become knowledgeable about and develop skills in.
So what are the simply tools to help? Well a very useful but powerful one is everyday metaphors and allegories. In other words what common every day or relevant to the learner ways of explaining can you use which will help the leaner make parallels with what they know already? This by the way is one of the most important principals of adult learning – adults have prior experiences which can and should be used and built upon in training. So everyday objects and routines can and should be drawn on to explain and provide easy to understand examples.
One of my first memories of this was delivering work based training to new learners around the damage that Electro Static Discharge can cause to Circuit Boards and from there the preventative measures that need to be taken. One of the fastest ways for learners to grasp this principal was to use the example of the common everyday day static shock that we can experience in shop display cabinets, escalators and liken this to a lightning bolt that strikes a tree and to imagen the potential damage it can cause.
I also remembering learning to ski as an adult and how easy it was to understand how to position your skis to stop going down a slope when it was called a pizza slice and then how to accelerate through placing them as French fries beside each other.
So if you are sensing or experiencing a lack of understanding by your learners, consider what every day examples you can use which could help your learners create bridges between their understanding and your knowledge.
One last thing to bear in mind which is another quote of Einstein’s “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. If you are finding it hard to explain something complex you might need to go back to it and see if there something that is missing from your understanding of the topic. I have experienced this and it helps to go back with humility and see what is missing from what I understand of the topic and allow for further research, discussion and reflection. One final principal which is a mantra of ours and I will come back to again, once you are a trainer it is all about the learner. Once you have your learners learning needs in mind you will not go wrong. Happy Training!
View full details of our Train the Trainer Courses here
Submitted by our Train the Trainer tutor, Maura Murphy
Sign up to receive the latest industry and company news direct to your inbox.