After being in the pedagogical field for over 25 years, I’ve identified seven (7) key factors that proved to be worth sharing. Before I begin, what’s important to understand is the distinction in adult learning and its active assimilation of what is being presented; realizing that this population’s needs are specific in nature and comprised of varying immediate necessitates. With this in mind, the approach then becomes somewhat of a “micro-learning” or “micro-collaboration” structured environment. In a micro-learning setting, the objective of the seminar or lesson is stripped down to its most essential parts – taking into consideration time and targets. Practicality then accommodates the goal of the learning objective from a morning team meeting to a professional development session. Not to confuse micro management with micro-collaboration – the difference is extreme. In a micro-management meeting, your colleagues feel inferior and taken for granted. Whereas in a micro-collaboration, the staff is seen as a team. Each person plays a significant, essential role. One that is shown to be needed and valued. On a regular basis, managers and staff meet to collaborate ideas and communicate about the main business matters at hand. The method is agile in character. For those of you who are not familiar, I will discuss the scope of agile techniques in a later article. In addition to the above-mentioned practices, there are seven (7) key factors that I feel should be included in the assemblage of a convening workforce:
1. Patience – people have different learning styles. Take the time to identify how the group acquires information. Develop the meeting or class with enough room for differentiated strategies that appeal to individual needs. It might appear to be more work, but trust me, the method makes for a very creative session; for you, your staff, team or class.
2. Understanding – knowing when to listen and when to speak. Let everyone have a voice to share their opinion, while keeping watch on those who are quiet most of the time. Showing that you are willing to hear, with an attentive, non-judgmental ear, each voice in the room; should eventually widen the opportunity for others.
3. Team-work mindset – although we all have different roles in an organization and unique needs in a professional development session, in order for the ship to sail, all hands-on deck is requisite to a safe voyage. The manager displays a humble, non-threatening attitude that portrays commonality but that does not lose its position on the organizational chart. It is a “quiet command.”
4. Open-mindedness – to realize that we do not live in a “cookie-cutter” world; we are to appreciate and embrace differences. Today we find that meetings are comprised of a diverse melting pot that encompass varieties of cultures, ethnicities, and genders. Which also includes an assortment of experiences, opinions, views, and likes and dislikes. An effective facilitator should take advantage of this range of variation to help generate a vibrant, energetic gathering.
5. Sense of empathy – the Webster Dictionary defines empathy as, “…the ability to relate to another person’s pain vicariously, as if one has experienced that pain themselves.” This characteristic is an important trait in order to create a safe learning environment where teachers, employees, and students feel comfortable to actively participate; when one genuinely empathizes with others, it acts as a catalyst that creates a platform of open discussions. The atmosphere becomes more welcoming and less intimidating. No anxiety…although this disposition is beneficial in all learning sites, it is especially crucial when you are teaching English Language Learners.
6. Being able to motivate and inspire – this is my favorite “key factor.” This personality or skill is of vital importance because if one can motivate and inspire, then a sequence of stimulating events occurs. I’ve seen in my years of training others, that motivation and inspiration is captivating. It has the tendency to be contagious. The students begin to positively influence and encourage each other’s productivity. The meeting or class begins to initiate a “cruise-control” format, which in turns makes your job flow at an even pace.
7. Professionalism – I pride myself in displaying a professional attitude and demeanor in all that I do, at the same time being mindful not to portray or exhibit a person who cannot be easily approached. Coaching petitions respect if you expect for someone to listen or consider your advice. For adult students or colleagues, being professional eludes to a confident, experienced and qualified instructor or manager that they are willing to appreciate and approve. For me, professionalism is synonymous to self-respect. Presenting yourself in a manner that is ethical and honorable to your profession, will convey to others, on the most part, to emulate the same.
“An Honorable Man restores the Dignity of Others.” Unknown.
Should be interactive for both student and instructor