These comments stem from my experience in helping to lead training sessions on technical elements.
- Many trainers have so much information that they wish to convey to teams about technical elements that they tend to try and stuff too much information into a class. (My dad tends to do this and as I help him prepare for classes I have to occasionally remind him that taking his classes is like trying to drink water from a fire hydrant.)
- Teaching technical skills to teams should be a continual process. One year you may only be able to teach two or three very basic classes (like wiring connections or switches). The next year you can add on more advanced courses while continuing to offer the basic classes. After a few years you will have been able to teach teams a variety of classes without overwhelming them.
- My opinion is that technical classes need to be a minimum of 90 minutes long. As we taught classes this past year we were unable to adequately present basic information in a 55 to 60 minute class. You can add a short (5 minute) break in the middle of the class to give the teams a rest but you need the extra time. If you are teaching a workshop where teams go through a rotation of classes you may not be able to do as many classes but your teams will learn and retain more useful information with fewer classes that are longer.
- When possible, try to break teams into classes by age groups. Mixing 3rd graders and 8th graders in the same class leads to frustration for everyone.
- Many technical classes require specialized tools and it can be difficult to gather up enough of those tools for use for the workshop. Review the tools page for ideas on how to deal with this.
- Technical classes should be very “hands on”. Most team members can learn more by doing than by listening. Because of this I recommend that you try to limit class size to 3 teams or 20 team members. I would also require that at least one team manager accompany the team through the classes.
- Many team managers worry so much about interference that they are afraid to teach their teams anything. At the start of every class, remind team managers that teaching skills is not interference and tell them that you expect them to be involved with the workshop and to assist their teams if they are having trouble with a particular activity or concept.
- If possible, always have at least one assistant in the class (two is better). This can be another adult or you could solicit an older DI participant to help. Teams are going to have trouble with certain tasks and it is helpful to have someone besides yourself who can show them how to use a certain tool or where to touch the test probes of a Voltage Ohm Meter to measure current. Of course this means that you need to go through the workshop with the assistant so that they know what you need them to do and when they need to do it.
- Some trainers tend to expand too much in certain areas and get off schedule. As you prepare your workshop make yourself a schedule that shows where you should be every 10 minutes. Use this as a reference and be prepared to skip things if you get off schedule.
- No matter how hard you plan and try to stay on schedule there seems to always be things that you don’t get through with certain classes. Create a document that outlines ALL of the activities that you did in class and give the team managers a link where they can download the document and be able to work back through all the activities with their team.
- Technical classes require more expensive supplies than other classes. You need to carefully consider the supplies needed and charge accordingly.
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©2009 Heather Compton