Teaching and Learning

I’m in Albuquerque this week at a debriefing workshop. When I teach, I don’t just read PowerPoint slides. I do use handouts (and frequently PPT) to guide what I’m going to say. However, I add lots of stories, and use interactive activities to drive specific points home to the workshop participants. The way to extract learnings from the activities is to debrief the activities. And this week, fellow bloggers Esther, Dale, Don, Steve, and Dave are here as part of the workshop. (Jerry Weinberg is leading the workshop.) Us AYE hosts are here to improve our debriefing skills so that AYE is even better this year.

Yesterday, I learned something unexpected. I normally debrief my activities with words, either in small groups or as one group. But yesterday, one of the other participants suggested we draw our reactions to an activity.

I flunked drawing (and cutting) in kindergarten. That was over 40 years ago, but to this day, I don’t believe I can draw. (I know I know how to use scissors now 🙂 So I never considered drawing as a way to debrief an activity.

But there are lots of people out there who find “expressing themselves on paper” (my new codeword for drawing) to be more effective than words for debriefing. And, since I’m the instructor for my classes, it behooves me to learn how to flex to those people’s preferences.

Many of the activities in my project management workshops are best debriefed with words. But not all. And I can imagine a number of activities in the management workshops Esther and I are planning that might use “expressions on paper” as first pass of debriefing.

The best thing about using experiential techniques when teaching is that the instructor learns something in every class. As an instructor, I can plan the interaction and how to debrief, but in almost every case, something unexpected happens. And the real learnings for everyone in the room arises from the unexpected happenings, which is why debriefing is such an important skill.

If you’re planning to take a class (any kind of class), make sure experiences are built into the class. Because the practice and debriefing of the practice will teach you much more than any prepared material ever could.

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