Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Java Champion and Developer Advocate at Okta. developer.okta.com

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10+ YEARS


Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

How to be a better Trainer/Teacher

Kathy Sierra has a great post titled Ten Tips for New Trainers/Teachers. This hits home with me because because I've been doing a lot of training lately - and plan on doing a lot more in the future. I think she has a lot of great points, and I certainly plan on using her ideas as best I can. Luckily, I already use some of them - but I could certainly use some more, like group exercises and ditching slides in favor of more interactive sessions.

Here is a quick summary of this post:

Eleven Things to Know

  • Know the difference between "listening" and "learning".
  • Know how the brain makes decisions about what to pay attention to, and what to remember.
  • Know how to apply what you learned in #2. In other words, know how to get your learners to feel.
  • Know the wide variety of learning styles, and how to incorporate as many as possible into your learning experience.
  • Know the fundamentals of current learning theory!
  • Know why--and how--good advertising works.
  • Know why--and how--good stories work.
  • Know a little something about "the Socratic method". Know why it's far more important that you ask the good questions rather than supply all the answers.
  • Know why people often learn more from seeing the wrong thing than they do from seeing the right thing. Know why the brain spends far less time processing things that meet expectations, than it does on things that don't.
  • Know why it's just as important to study and keep up your teaching skills as it is to keep up your other professional skills. Yes there ARE professional organizations for trainers, with conferences, journals, and online discussions.
  • Know why using overhead slides to deliver a classroom learning experience can--sometimes (often)--be the worst thing you can do.
  • Know how -- and why -- good games can keep people involved and engaged for hours. Learn how to develop activities that lead to a Flow State.

Ten Tips for New Trainers

  • Keep lecture to the absolute minimum.
  • It is almost always far more important that your learners nail fewer subjects than be "exposed" to a wider range of subjects.
  • 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.
  • Work hard to get everyone to complete the lab exercises, but NEVER give out the solutions in advance!
  • Do group exercises whenever possible, no matter what you've heard.
  • The best execises include an element of surprise and failure.
  • Leave your ego at the door. This is not about you.
  • Have a Quick Start and a Big Finish.
  • Try never to talk more than 10-15 minutes without doing something interactive. And saying, "Any questions?" does not count as interaction!
  • Don't assume that just because you said it, they got it. And don't assume that just because you said it five minutes ago, they remember it now.
  • If you're not passionate, don't expect any energy from your learners.

And most importantly: It's not about what YOU do... it's about how your learners feel about what THEY can do as a result of the learning experience you created and helped to deliver.

Good advice Kathy - and much appreciated. I'm doing a full week of training in San Francisco next week, followed by a tutorial on AppFuse (at OSCON) in early August - both should give me a nice stage to test these ideas.

As far as your classroom experiences - which ones have you enjoyed the most? What did the instructor do different? How have you been inspired by a training course?

Posted in Java at Jul 12 2005, 08:12:38 AM MDT 2 Comments
Comments:

The best trainings need a highly qualified (from practical use) trainer and some kind of flexible schedule. The trainer must be able to answer specific questions outside of the training materials and must not strictly follow the printed material when it doesn't make sense.

My best training was in 1995 about MSSQL with a former MS product manager and only two attendees. One of the worst trainings was last year about BEA WebLogic Integration (the whole stuff in one week - just useless!).

Posted by Lars Fischer on July 12, 2005 at 01:07 PM MDT #

Nice writeup, I liked especially seeing that I try to apply almost all of the Ten Tips. However, no matter how much I work hard to get people to complete the labs, many companies send to our courses people without the minimum experience needed: thus I can find in the same class somebody with 5 years experience in J2EE who flies thru the labs, and somebody else without any programming experience. Seeing the frustration on those people faces is the most painful aspect of my experience as a trainer.

Posted by Sebastiano Pilla on July 13, 2005 at 03:05 AM MDT #

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