I was asked a great question during a break in my four hour Excellence in Training presentation at the 2009 ILEETA Conference. During the presentation we had discussed the key themes ofWhat’s Important Now and You Have Not Taught Until They Have Learned.
The question was “At what point does the student need to accept responsibility for their actions.” Great question.
The answer – Right from the start.
As students we must understand from the beginning of the training program that we play a key role in the learning process. Learning is not a passive skill. A student committed to learning must actively engage in the process of learning during all training sessions.
I have heard discussions during adult education courses that center around the fact that we should refer to the people in our classes as participants rather than students. The reason being the connotation of teaching to students versus engaging adult learners (participants) in the learning process. I completely agree with the premise. AS learners we must however, ensure that we are participants and are therefore actively engaged in the learning process.
We often talk about ‘Active Listening Skills’ during effective communication classes. We also need to talk about ‘Active Learning Skills’. I believe the keys to Active Learning as the participant include:
- Putting forth the appropriate effort during all sessions.
- Asking questions to seek clarification.
- Maintaining an open mind towards information that is new, or contrary to previous learning experiences.
- Be willing to put yourself out there and say “I am having trouble with this skill. Can you help me with that” or “I am having trouble understanding this concept. Can you explain it to me in a different way?” Too often we think asking for help is a sign of weakness. In fact, it is a sign of strength.
- Believe we will learn the skill or material. Too often we convince ourselves that we can’t do something. That thought will become a self fulfilling prophecy.
- Seek excellence, not perfection. Excellence comes from a commitment to always be better tomorrow than we are today. Excellence is a journey that includes making mistakes and failing, then learning and growing from those experiences. Perfection on the other hand is impossible to achieve. Perfection often serves as a roadblock for people as they are afraid to take risks due to a fear of making a mistake and not being perfect.
In order to be effective trainers we must also become Active learners.