Over the years as a facilitator, I’ve discovered that learners have different characteristics, different learning capabilities, different reaction times, different attitudes, values, interests, motivations and personalities. I need to be aware of these differences and adjust my pedagogy and learning environment accordingly.
Since my participants are mostly adults, creating a comfortable environment for them and supporting their learning process is a must. Most of them bring a wealth of work-related and personal experiences to the training room, and I need to take responsibility for safeguarding their self-confidence and self-esteem. I need to let them know that I value their contributions, that I learn from them too, and look for opportunities to recognize their achievements and areas of improvement.
These practices lead to the promotion of good, constructive relationships with and among the learners, and to thoughtfulness and common courtesy in class. Showing enthusiasm during the sessions, considering the needs of individual learners as well as the needs of the group, encouraging learners to share their experiences and to help each other also optimizes the learning experience. The participants are strongly task-oriented and want us to address and meet their expectations, and to get ‘certified’ by the end of the session.
To accomplish all this is no small feat. As a facilitator, I need to be observant, put aside my biases, to know what makes the learners tick, and keep them motivated. After identifying their learning preferences and expectations, their attention needs to be earned and sustained throughout the training. The focus is not only on the completion of the course so that the learners get certified, but to make them confident, independent and responsible. The goal is to strive for optimum learning impact and post training impact for the learners – be it in new skills acquired or behavioural development, and sometimes, for professionals, their Return on Investment (ROI).
In the process, I am a facilitator to some learners if it is reinforcement of information or concept that they require; an administrator, when I develop the training schedule, act as a timekeeper, and look for alternative or optional activities; an instructor when I have to introduce new concepts or skills; a friend, when learners need a willing shoulder and ears; and a counsellor when my advice, expertise and guidance are sought. In addition, learners look up to a facilitator as a mentor.
When faced with such expectations, I need to lead by example, model standards of courtesy and competence that all learners can emulate, and be constantly aware of my actions and my responses to others. These roles can become overwhelming, especially if we switch roles or have to adapt to the demands of our learners often. If not balanced well, this could have an adverse effect on our lives. As facilitators, we need to constantly interact with our peers or people in similar professions and take their advice, assistance and feedback for our sanity (if I may put it bluntly!) and a healthy relationship with our learners.
“Why do I do what I do?” I’ve been asked this question several times and my answer has always been, “I do what I do because I love what I do and I learn when I do what I do.” I should never give up learning! I wish to be an influencer to others in a positive way, to contribute to people’s development and to the organization that I am part of. I should continue asking myself how many people have been impacted positively because of my work and in what capacity I can do more – leaving no stones unturned.
As a facilitator, my learners and people around me expect me to have knowledge beyond my level of expertise, and to be a source of knowledge. The demands and expectations are never ending. Learning is a never-ending process, therefore, we have to continuously hone our skills and sharpen our minds. As exercise is to a healthy body, learning contributes to positive mental health. For myself and for my career development, I need to be a learner all the time, and my learners should know that too.
I often share one of Michelangelo’s famous last words when he was in his eighties: “I am still learning!”
A trainer with ten years of experience, Nune heads the Learning, Development and Talent Management wings of YouthNet, and is based in Nagaland. She was a participant in Cohort 7, of the MasterCoach Program – North East Region, 2018.