Factors which affect the smooth running

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19. Factors that affect the smooth running of a course

Instructors must master the following factors to give a smooth-running course:

  • Time management
  • Equipment use
  • Familiarity with whole course
  • Team teaching

Time management

There is a lot to cover in the course so stick to the times suggested.

  • Start on time and end on time; people aren’t going to want to stay past the end time.
  • Be careful not to tell too many stories or add too much extra information.
  • Know how to wrap up a discussion.
  • Know how to use the equipment; don’t waste class time learning how to use it. Learning how to use classroom equipment before the class begins will save a lot of time. You don’t want to lose time and break the flow of the class because you’re fumbling with equipment.

Tips for Effective Time Management

  • At the start of the unit, establish some ground rules:
    • There is a lot to be covered. The instructor reserves the right to wrap up a discussion and move on. Minimize instructor and participant “war stories.”
    • Everyone gets a chance to talk but no one dominates.
    • Use a Parking Lot to capture items that need to be pursued but are not the focal points for this unit.
    • Ask the group to keep focused.
  • Ask for help from the group. “Folks, we have 10 minutes remaining for this item. We need to refocus. How can we wrap up this discussion?”
  • Practice and practice until you can use the equipment easily and comfortably.
  • As much as possible, get activities set up ahead of time.
  • Get non-participant volunteers to help set up the hands-on activities at the appropriate time.
  • As you prepare, practice giving the directions for the activity. They need to be simple, clear, complete, and in logical order.

The use of equipment during training

You should have all the equipment you need during the training ready, connected and checked BEFORE the day starts. A lot of time is wasted by poorly set up equipment. Make sure you know who is available and able to help if you get into problems. Have a strategy ready for what you will do if everything (including the electricity) fails you.

A lot can go wrong with equipment and usually does at the most crucial moment. Try to deal with problems in a relaxed way so that the flow of the learning isn't too disturbed. Give people five minutes break while you sort the problem out quietly. Have 'Plan B' up your sleeve as an alternative to using the equipment. It will allow you to be more creative with the course content.

Familiarity with the whole course

You should know what is covered in each of the units so that:

  • You can tell people where the answer to a question will be addressed
  • You can refer to a point or skill learned in a previous unit that supports material in the current unit
  • You can make the connections that show the cohesiveness of the training
  • You look more competent
  • You can help the “specialty” instructors who may be less familiar with the course

If you don't feel you know your content well enough or aren't confident that you can deliver the content in the best manner possible then your lack of confidence will show in the way you behave in front of the participants. Things will only get worse from then on and it will be very difficult to regain any real credibility. If for some reason you aren't well enough prepared then perhaps the best solution is to say so, turn things on their head a little and to use it as an exercise in real participatory learning. Hand over the 'training' and get participants to take much more responsibility for their own learning with your support and the feedback you are surely able to provide. Remember too, that training isn't about you. It is about the learners and their needs. Take a deep breath and facilitate the learning rather than feeding the participants.

Team teaching

Staff can work together to facilitate a course: Plan together before the class for how you will divide up the roles: a. Facilitator b. Coach c. Evaluator d. Classroom manager

You can take turns leading different parts of the course. One could lead while the other takes notes, writes on the board, helps with group activities and discussions, or deals with administrative issues. One can open, close, and help with activities while the other leads the group through the material. One can do all the facilitation while the other simply monitors, being an additional set of eyes and ears.

Both facilitators will be needed to coach, support activities and evaluate participants’ engagement.

Rehearse whenever possible so you can figure out timing and identify any areas that might cause a problem. Agree to make any difference of opinion “respectful debate.” Meet throughout the training and afterwards to evaluate, tweak arrangements and suggest improvements for the future.