|Teacher Training: a Reference Manual (Peace Corps, 1986, 176 p.)|
|Chapter 1 what a teacher trainer needs to know|
|Considerations in designing a training program|
As you begin to match learning activities with your content topics, you must keep in mind how they will all go together. Though these considerations are not as important if you are planning an afternoon or even a one day training, they become crucial for any program that lasts for several days or weeks.
The key to a successful design is the ability to balance a variety of variables. After an initial selection of learning activities, begin to place your activities on a timeline for the period your training is to last. As you do this, consider the following:
° High energy vs. low energy: Each day has its high energy and low energy times. High energy times are when participants are refreshed and energetic; low energy times are when you are trying to keep everyone awake. Mornings tend to be high energy and afternoons low, particularly in hot countries with a tradition of heavy mid-day meals and afternoon siestas! (Don't ever try to do a heavy, theoretical lecture after lunch when it's 90 degrees outside! During the week there are also high and low energy times. There is no way to avoid these times, but a good trainer designs a program keeping them in mind. Do your theoretical sessions in the morning, with the most intense ones early in the week. Then in the afternoons, and even in the time just before lunch, have active, doing sessions; small group work, role plays, case studies, etc. If it is possible to include a field trip or site visit, do it on a Wednesday afternoon to break up your week.
° Academic vs. experiential: People learn best not by hearing, but by doing. While it is important for the trainees to learn specific or technical content, be sure to also include activities that involve them in the use of this content. Vary your techniques so that they address each part of the learning cycle (see Adult Learning) and remember that, ultimately, five days of role play can be just as deadly as five days of lecture!
° Large groups vs. small groups: 80th large group and small group sessions have advantages. Large group sessions are good for lectures or demonstrations when you want everyone to get the same information. Small groups are best for discussions and individual participation. Many participants who would never speak in front of a large group of people are very willing to share their experiences or questions with only sex or seven others.
° In class vs. out of class: If possible, try to include field trips and site visits. These are important not only because they give the needed change of pace pointed out above, but also because they bring a reality factor into the training. If the training is too abstractly theoretical, participants may fear that though the ideas presented are good ones, they could never implement them.
° Serious vs. fun: While you want your training program to be taken seriously by participants, this does not mean that it cannot be fun. Include celebrations in your design, especially the opening and closing of the program. If it is a residential program consider how the evenings will be spent; are there movies, town trips, special dinners? If the program is a week or two in length, make sure to included recreational or sports activities. Incorporate something light or fun in each session, even if it is only a two-minute icebreaker.
° Vary the learning environment: Change space as often as possible, even if it means just rotating sessions among a couple of rooms. In a week-long program, people will often +claim' a seat where they remain for the whole time. Shake things up a little. If you cannot move to a different room, then try to change the room you are in by rearranging the chairs, or by putting up new wall decor every couple of days.
° Balancing a Training Team: If you are working in a training team, change trainers as often as appropriate. Each trainer has 0a or her own style that will appeal to some of the participants but not to others. If one trainer is particularly quiet and soft spoken, have him/her facilitate the high energy times. The trainer who is the joker and extrovert may be more successful motivating participants during low energy training times.
When you have completed your training design and schedule, look at it. Would you want to be a participant in the program? Would you find it challenging yet fun? And if you can answer yes, then chances are you have designed a program that your participants will both enjoy and from which they will learn.
The following is the design and rough schedule for an intensive, inservice teacher training program. Titles of sessions, techniques used and time spent on each technique (in minutes, parenthesized) are shown.