Thursday, June 11, 2015

On trainers and teaching, Part II (6/11/2015)

As a teacher/instructor I am getting this feeling that I am becoming overly-critical of how others prepare their lectures, prepare their materials, or do their teaching jobs.  This sounds horribly arrogant; I caught myself being critical yesterday when I reported on the various classes and seminars I attended in the past few days.  I am aware that I am becoming a curmudgeon in my old age and it is something I want to avoid at all cost, but I often wonder why people just plainly accept lousy teachers and sit through a class or seminar.  I have a lot of very good fellow teachers in our group (and then to think we are not professional, or I should say formally trained instructors); we all have our own style (thank God), but it is more about classes and lectures given by people outside the agency I work for.  Some of these courses have nothing to do with the subjects I generally teach; they even include some of the sermons I see at the church I visit.

One of my fellow teachers in the class for inspectors that he and I taught.
That my criticism may be off base and/or lead to (the perception of) arrogance became more apparent after talking with my supervisor and after reading reviews from various classes I taught and some of the classes that other people taught while I was observing.  They really loved the latest class that I was somewhat critical about (in my head but not vocally to the instructor, in particular since the reviews were very good).  I really wonder what I missed, but it appears that students were glad to learn more details on subjects they learned in a previous classes, in particular in preparation for the exam they have to take.  So yes, while we say that we don't teach them to take an exam, in reality we probably do, or that is what our students want us to do.

Teaching is something I truly enjoy and talk about in my blog (look for the keyword/label: teaching or training).  I too tend to get very decent reviews and some not so good reviews (see the photo below; yes, there are always a clown or two in your class).  I take serous reviews seriously and try to learn from them, but these were somewhat rediculous.

The joker
The angry person
I am still not aware that I have an opinionated liberal agenda, other than on that specific day, I talked about evolution and the need to preserve trees.  However, I suspect this was the guy I asked to stop having very loud side conversations with some of his fellow students while I was teaching and others were trying to listen to me instead of to him.  So yes I do take reviews personal and try to learn from them.  Another one of my favorite positive reviews went something like this: "My supervisor forced me to come to this class.  I did not expect much, but I actually learned something."  I really do think there is a joker in every class I teach.

An online search on teaching strategies and instructional design brought my attention to a few things. Deborah Davis gives the following recommendations in here book: The Adult Learner’s Companion: A Guide for the Adult College Student:

  • Use the adult learner’s experience and knowledge as a basis from which to teach.
  • Show adult learners how this class will help them attain their goals.
  • Make all course and text material practical and relevant to the adult learner. 
  • Show adult learners the respect they deserve.
  • Adjust your teaching speed to meet the needs of the older learner.
  • Motivate adult learners to learn new information.

In his "Rapid Elearning Blog" Tom Kuhlmann gives five little nuggets:

  • Instructional design is more than just putting information in front of learners
  • Instructional design has clear goals and gets learners focused on the right things
  • Instructional design provides context and perspective
  • Instructional design compresses the learning process and saves time (this is probably the one I violate the most)
  • Instructional design engages learners with clear and meaningful content

I really like to do all these things in my class design and teaching; maybe subconsciously, but I try.  As I tell some of my students, "I have sat through classes that were so boring that I promised myself that if I ever had to give a talk or a class, I would never be like that."

I have two questions for the readers of my blog:

  1. Do you also notice that you've become overly critical (in a positive way) either with age or since you have become more seasoned in your job?
  2. If you are an adult educator or attend a lot of training classes, do your agree with the two bulleted lists above or are there any other bullets you would like to add?  



No comments:

Post a Comment