When you can’t possibly teach that subject matter one more time…

Ug.  If I have to give this training session one more time I am going to run through the office screaming like a 3rd grade science student that just got peed on by a frog.  Every had that thought?  I sure have.  Sometimes, as trainers, we are forced to give a class repeatedly and simply can’t bear the thought of teaching that material one more time.

Frustrated Training Manager

Back when I taught High School I generally had four US History classes per day.  I recall one time that the lesson I had to teach was BOORRRRIIIINNNNGGGG even to me.  Now we can get into how I should have redesigned the lesson, created a better learning structure for it, etc. but that’s another discussion.  The point is, I had to teach it repeatedly.  I hated it after the first period.  So beyond better instructional design, what could I have done to improve it?  Here are some things I wish I could have told myself back then:

1.  Mix it up – As you re-teach material, teach it in a different order, or have a modified activity.  There is not one perfect way you have to teach something, so plan alternatives to keep it interesting for YOU.  While you are at it, do some assessment and see which method was more effective.  Maybe it will help you in the future.

2.  Utilize trainees to teach if they have expertise in that area – maybe someone attending a class on how to design better tracking systems for middle managers is really good at Excel spreadsheets.  Ask that student to take 10 minutes and explain one part of the lesson.  (You probably will want to warn them beforehand!)

3.  Push through – Yes, I know that isn’t the most helpful of tips, but think of it this way: every good teacher and trainer is to some degree an actor.  We have to appear interested in the material as an example to the students.  There are going to be times where you just need to act your way through a lesson.

4.  Redesign the training – if you teach a lesson and find it tedious, step back and analyze whether you can modify it to be more interesting for everyone involved.  This can be as simple as turning a section of the lesson into a group project or learning game.  Look for the easy way first, then get more complicated if necessary.

5.  Rearrange the learning environment – I’ve had lessons that I found boring in a normal classroom setting suddenly become very engaging just by rearranging the seating into a discussion circle.  Or maybe you relocate the class to the lunch room so people can relax with coffee and snacks.  The key is to make the training feel different.

6.  Don’t teach it – is the training really necessary in a live setting?  Maybe you’d be better off sending it as an email or Microsoft Word document.  Turn it into self-paced training and let the people slog through it on their own time.  Then use the time you saved to make another training program that much better.

In the end it is entirely up to you how monotonous something is.  Good designers and instructors can make anything interesting and relevant if they work hard enough at it.  Have some other ideas?  I’d love to hear them…

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