It all started with . . . something that made sense
As I traveled along in my professional life I was told by friends, coworkers and managers that I could 'train anyone about anything.'
While this was flattering, I wasn't quite sure how to make that a career. After 28 years of helping others, I think I've figured it out. I allowed my comfort zone guide me to what made sense. Engineering and science was my home. Helping others felt like the right thing to do. I realized knowing something well, collecting useful resources and guiding others to avoid the frustrations I encountered while learning about it was a direct way to provide something to people who needed it.
Adult learners are different. Talking at career scientists for hours on end doesn't work. It bores them. To pieces. There is a better way. Try this - think about how you accept and internalize information.
Some of us are visual learners - we process things with our eyes. Reading, observing, witnessing and following. My mom adores reading and I know that just explaining something to her won't work. She has to be able to visualize what it is that you are trying to explain to her. Give her a map, something to read, something to look up. Then the light bulb goes on.
Others are auditory learners. If you like books on CD/MP3, podcasts and talking with others, you probably prefer the auditory medium. My dad was one of these folks. Don't try to hand him a map - he'd rather you tell him where to go. (I'm not going to say anything about guys and directions . . . )
And finally we have our physical/tactile learners. These folks love doing things with their hands - even something as simple as writing can help. I adore Legos and taking things apart to see how they work. This helps me process how objects/ideas/concepts come together. I'm a person who needs physical files, tape flags and likes graphically planning things out. I am definitely a physical learner. Well, maybe some visual pieces too.
While we wish we can nudge each person into just one of these learning style categories, many of us have an overlap between learning styles. My training process focuses on how people react when I share and convey ideas. Do they immediately write something down? Do they look to their coworkers for nods of agreement? Or are they looking at the extra materials provided in their binder? All these signals allow me to engage and help others process information.
One word I am carrying around with me is the word ANTICIPATE. What will an attendee need to process the next piece of information I will present to them? Do they need a real world example? Something to compare it to in their work environment? A way to coax an existing thought into a response to a question I will ask? As an educator, an instructor and a peer I strive to anticipate what a person needs.
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