Where are we going with this?

We learn better when we know where we are going. At some time, everyone has wondered when a lesson would end, or how hard the exam would be, or when the instructor was going to give a coffee break. Not knowing the end adds stress to learning and that stress may speak louder than the lesson, especially if the learners are struggling with the language. Good instructors know how to predict the schedule and get the class ready for success with the exam. There must be an end, and we have to take people there. That is why we are at the front of the room.

It’s painful to think of your best training work as stress and confusion for the learners, but we are all capable of doing that kind of work. For an LEP learner, the lesson can be “blah blah blah, blah blah blah” from the front of the room, with a quiz to follow.

Prediction is important for learning with experiments. (see http://theleanthinker.com/2017/04/23/the-importance-of-prediction-for-learning/ ) Scientific research and corporate R&D learning always starts with a prediction of what will be learned ‘where we expect to go with this’ and this prediction method can be adapted to our work as trainers. People like to know where they are going and how they are going to get there. With LEP learners, prediction can reduce the confusion and stress in their language fog. We should identify the knowledge needed for success, which usually means passing the quiz, becoming certified, or performing better on the job.

Predicting and expecting are important in most theories of motivation, including Vroom’s “Expectancy Theory.” (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expectancy_theory ) Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and the end motivates.

One of my favorite methods is to give sample quiz questions at the start. This gives the learners a clear picture of where they need to be at the end, so they can focus their learning. I tell them that if they are confused now, they will understand these questions better at the end of the session. This method can also keep me focused on the important topics. I am capable of getting lost in personal or funny stories, or riding off on my favorite hobby horse; running down rabbit trails when I have a job to do. All instructors have to fight the urge to turn a training session into personal therapy with a captive audience. Prediction is like a verbal contract from me; I promise to take them to those places.

In general, prediction will help the LEP learners, everyone else will learn better, and you will be a focused and disciplined instructor.

To do:

  • In general, take prediction seriously in your training.
  • Say what the schedule is, including breaks and dismissal time, and stay on schedule.
  • Give quiz or discussion questions, both before and after a module lesson, and assure the learners that this is a sample of what they need to know.
  • Give a clear summary of what they will learn in a module, at the start of each module.
  • Answer premature questions when you get them. Say “I will summarize now, and I will tell you all the information later.”
  • Add your own good ideas to this list.
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