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  • Irina Ketkin, author of #adventuresofthelearner

Engaging Learners - from the classroom to the training room

A few years ago I purchased a book by Andy Griffith and Mark Burns called Engaging Learners. The book is about how teachers can engage students in the classroom and actually make them learn. I wasn't too sure if the book would fit with my main responsibility - train people in soft skills.

But then I started reading the humourous research the authors had done and was amazed at how much we forget that underneath it all - we are all kids. I realised that a lot of the activities and games proposed for the classrooms could fit perfectly with adult learners as well.

Let me give you some examples. Immediately after reading the book, I had to design a 1-day workshop for 10 or so team leaders on Giving Effective Feedback. Some of the exercises I used are described below:

  • Effort Levels - have a flipchart with the descriptions of the different levels (Levels: Level 1 – Excellent; Level 2 – Very Good; Level 3 – Good; Level 4 – Satisfactory; Level 5 – Mediocre; Level 6 – Poor; Level 7 - Very Poor). After each activity or exercise everyone will need to rate their effort levels by raising a note with the respective number. Any one who gives a level below 4 (including) will be asked to give one sentence answer to the questions "What can you do to get to level 2 (or 1)?"

  • Universal Truths - 1. Explain what a universal truth is (something is always true, everywhere; these truths cross times, borders, genders and cultures) 2. Divide the learners into 2 groups. 3. Group A gives suggestions about what a feedback universal truth is, group B challenges their views (i.e. by asking "Are you absolutely sure of that?") 4. Both groups together come up with a final list of universal truths about feedback.

  • Wizards and Managers - 1. Divide learners into 2 groups - Managers and Wizards. Give the Managers group a performance profile (with productivity and quality scores of a CS Agent) 2. Explain that the Wizards are actual wizards from Harry Potter who have infiltrated the muggle world and became CS agents. The profiles represent their performance to-date. (Optional: Do not let the managers know the other group are wizards who do not understand the ways of muggles/humans). Optional: give black wizard hats made of paper to the wizard group. 3. In a Speed Dating fashion, arrange that each manager sits facing a wizard. Allow 2 minutes for the manager to give feedback to the wizard. 4. After two minutes, ring a bell and have the wizards move one seat to the right/left, facing a different manager and repeat step 3. 5. After all have had the chance to go, lead a debriefing session.

These are just 3 of the approx. 20 activities I adapted from the book. But overall, I think it is a must-have for trainers and facilitators as, in it's essence, the authors allow you to give the power and responsibility of learning back to learners.

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