My time at the 2017 Learning Forward annual conference was awesome. Looking through my notes, I am happy, full of information, and ready to tackle my professional work with rejuvenated passion. This conference is the gift that keeps my own professional learning energized. Here is something that resonated with me and will help me as I continue to work in professional learning (PL) and with teachers.
Using proven strategies while facilitating sessions with adult learners helps to ensure they will be engaging and collaborative while helping educators be better classroom teachers. Bob Pike, a trainer of trainers, says that adult learners fear failure and struggle with risk taking. Those who participate in front of a group within thirty minutes of the start of a presentation are 40% more likely to be an active participant. By keeping everyone engaged in the experience, participants are better assured success. Strategize right in your planning and start sessions off by having participants set norms. In one of my sessions, while we were learning more about adult andragogy, I participated in an innovative way to do that. Here are the norms we came up with:
- Have a growth mindset and commit to implement information.
- Challenge and support each other, be vulnerable.
- Self-awareness -be engaged, be on time, be respectful of technology.
- Connected to current practice.
- Assume positive intentions.
Establishing these norms was done using a strategy that uses affinity amongst group members to find commonalities. First, we wrote about a distracting behavior we had experienced in a PL session on a post-it and shared it with everyone at our table group. Next, as a group, we turned the distractions around and wrote a norm that would help alleviate them. Finally, we chose the top four norms from all the ones we wrote as a group and wrote them on poster paper. Once all of the posters from every table in the room were displayed, we were each given four sticky dots. Our instructions were to go on a gallery walk and place our dots on the norms that we wanted to use for the entire group. The five norms that had the most dots became the set norms for our session.
The strategy that we had participated in was to engage participants within the first thirty minutes of a session. Being engaged, our group’s participants were much more likely to be active during the entire session. I’m going to use this strategy with a group soon. There is still more to share. Look for the third part in this series as I continue to reflect on the Learning Forward annual conference.