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My Toughest Assignment (thus far)



Having trained extensively, staff at multinational and localized firms, I often reflect on what my toughest assignment was. Surprisingly it was not in a corporate training room. Imparting life skills to large groups of children living in slums, would top the list.


Firstly, the training venue itself was interesting. Goats and chickens used to wander in the open air classroom. The flooring was bare earth, carpeted with a recycled flex banner advertising a big brand.


The learners themselves were interesting.. Fidgety, unkempt and full of joy. They were super smart too. Basic math operations were done fast. (Much of it gained from practice doing business selling bootleg liquor or trinkets). They were whiz kids in paper craft, and could dance like pros.


So why was this tough? Simply because, if the session was boring, the class would empty out, zippy fast. No polite endurance of a droning speaker, no plastic smile to show respect, no ‘allow me to take this call’. If they didn’t like a session, they just got up and left.


This meant that as a trainer, I had to keep the session super engaging. In one session, the goat became an object lesson. - to teach cleanliness. In anther session, a cat wandered in and it became a live training tool to teach the parts of an animal's body.


40 minute sessions were broken into 5 minute talks followed by role plays to reflect on the learning. Drawing, coloring and origami became tools. They also saw and used a laptop for the first time.


The fruit? Over 11+ years of working with them, some have grown up to work at computer based firms. Others run their own businesses. Some unfortunately, went to the bootlegging biz they grew up in.


The only school that many attended was the Mazedaar School - the school with fun. That’s where I taught. Rather, that’s where I learnt, that if I could teach a group of slum children to stay engaged for 40 minutes, I had hope as a trainer and LD professional.


I also learnt the need to use a mix of the 7 dominant styles of learning: visual, _______, aural, social, _____, verbal and _____.


Learnings: 1. When teaching or training, involve all learning styles to help your audience.

2. When making presentations, think beyond Powerpoint. Include videos, add an object lesson, incorporate an activity. Spare your audience from boredom. Attempt to engage all types of learning styles.

3, Personally, be aware of what your dominant learning style is. This quiz will help: http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles-quiz.shtml

PS: Care to comment on what your toughest assignment was?


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