Blog posts of '2010' 'July'

Train the Trainer

SKBC is a big hit. Many parks have fighter practices to "teach the noobs" on days between park meetings. Several kingdoms have some sort of Collegium to teach A&S skills to those interested in being the next Serpent Knight. But does anyone actually teach how to teach?
It is one thing to be great at your art or skill, but it is something else entirely to be able to give that knowledge to someone else in a manner and form where they can use it effectively. The only guide most people have to go on is their own experience from school. They, as children, sat in a class and were 'teached' at for hours every day. With this as the role model, they try to show/ teach/ explain how to do what they know to others.
What they often don't consider is the target audience. Adults are not kids and they don't learn the same way as kids. Once most people leave school and begin living life, their minds change from sponges to sieves. Most everything an adult hears in a lecture goes in one ear, out the other, and falls out on the floor right outside the door when they leave.
Tests show adults only retain about 5% to 10% of anything they hear in a one hour lecture, and the longer the lecture the less they retain. Strangely, shorten the lecture to 45 minutes, and some people can retain up to 20%. This number gets larger the less lecturing there is and the more application. Adults tend to learn better by seeing and doing than by just hearing. The best instructors combine all three.
When you teach something, for example an SKBC class, tell the students what you want them to learn 3 times. At the beginning you tell them what you are going to teach them. Then you tell them what you are teaching them while you teach it. Finally, you tell them what you just taught them. This way, they are exposed to hearing the information 3 times instead of one time.
During the instruction, always try to have a mix of sound, visual, and action. Tell the students what you are teaching them, as well as showing them. In an SKBC class they see the moves while you are explaining the moves. Then they get to perform the moves themselves.
After the class has had a chance to practice what you have taught them, stop and talk about what they just did. As students, they are likely to have made mistakes. If the mistake is something you have specifically mentioned, you might point it out. However, if it is something that has not come up yet you might ask a question like "Did anyone notice anything wrong with what they just did?" Try to let the students identify problem areas themselves. In an SKBC class, someone might mention they noticed a move felt awkward, uncomfortable, sloppy, or some such. When the students themselves identify mistakes, they retain the corrections better than when you just point them out.
Stop talking and have the students practice each piece of information / technique. Doing this breaks up the lecturing. Try not to talk for more than 5 or 10 minutes straight at any one time without stopping for the students to practice.
After the students have practiced all the information for the class, try to allow at least 10 minutes (more for some subjects) for a question and answer session. This is a very dangerous time, as some students want to drown you in what-ifs. Allow this, and the other students minds will wander and lose most of the education they just received. If you keep the questions direct to what was just taught, everyone will stay more focused, which helps with retaining new information.
Last, recap the class so everyone hears one last time what they just learned. It cannot be stressed too much how important this last step is; It helps the students file the new information into categories that are easier to remember.
A good class length using this method can be about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Try not to lecture more than 45 minutes total, broken up often with periods of the students practicing what you have shown them.
It is good to have notes for yourself as well and any written hand-outs for the students, but try to avoid reading to people from your notes. It is much harder to learn from someone reading to you rather than from someone speaking directly to you.
Before you try teaching the class, and once you have your notes made up, take time to walk through the entire class including how much time to allow for practice periods. Adult students lose retention of information if something besides what they learned grabs their attention, and one of the biggest grabbers of attention is to get to the end of class and find out there was more to teach but time ran out. That alone can cause students to forget everything and feel they wasted the whole class.
I used SKBC as a model but this style/method works for almost anything you want adults to learn. Give it a try at your next fighter practice, A&S class, etc and see if it helps.