Watermark Learning

Classroom participationWe’re all probably a little hung over from the ardous task of coming up with gift ideas.  But how about the idea gift?   There’s no more precious gift than a great idea, and I get lots all year long from students, friends, colleagues, even family.  Below is an article about an idea that a colleague gave to me and that others found helpful when I ran it a year ago.  So in the spirit of continued giving post-holiday, here is my idea gift re-gifted for you.  And thank you to all the great gift givers in my life!  All the best in 2012!

As an instructor, I am happy to own the success of the learning events I lead.  It is my job to understand students’ needs and then figure out how to best meet them.  In addition, it’s my responsibility to do that in a way that maximizes the student experience, that is, make it fun, engaging, and pertinent to their real world.

What, if anything, do the students own?  Students often see training as a break from the proverbial grind.  They want to have fun, relax, and even be entertained.  And that’s fine.  Learning should be fun.  But how is the success in the classroom dependent on what they bring to the experience?

I remember some questions that a colleague used to ask her students at the beginning of each class to open their minds to the idea that the success of any learning experience is, in part, their responsibility.  She asked them to note somewhere privately the answers to the questions below:

One a scale of 1 to 7 (low-high), rate yourself on the following:

How participative do you plan on being in class today?

How much “risk” are you willing to take, that is, try new ideas?

To what extent are you interested in the success of everyone in the room?

How important are you to the success of this class?

Learning and development are often cited as key ingredients to fixing our national economic malaise.  Perhaps many of us are or will be increasingly finding ourselves in training as our organizations embrace the idea that learning and skills development are the cornerstones of being competitive, and maybe just surviving, in the knowledge-based, global economy of the 21st century. Are these questions that we all could be asking ourselves more?

I’m signed up to take a class in a few weeks and I’m pretty excited about it.  It will be a change of venue for me.  I get to relax and let someone else figure out how to meet my needs.  I’m even holding out hope that I might be entertained a bit.  I’m looking forward to a great instructor leading me through a great class.

But I also had better be willing to own my piece of the learning experience. I will need to participate and take some risk to get outside of my comfort zone because that is the only way to truly learn. I hope I’m  interested in the success of everyone in the room because their success is my success.  And how important am I to the success of the class? I think critically.

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