Back to school

My most vivid childhood memories are of the first days of school each fall: the hustle of getting clothes and supplies ready, practicing the walking route (when the school was new), the fresh smell of the halls and classrooms after their summer cleaning and buffing. Most of all I remember the feeling of being mentally ready and receptive to learning after a summer where my brain was less than active. I think most of us can relate to that “back to school feeling”, especially those of us who have children so we can relive it.

There’s a “back to school feeling” at work too, I’ve noticed. People seem more interested and ready to learn new skills – in face-to-face classrooms, elearning courses, and informally on the job. Enrollments and registrations usually pick up the end of August and continue through October. Instructors and facilitators are usually more enthusiastic and focused as well, it seems to me.

As a trainers, training managers and administrators, and as learners, we can capitalize on that “back to school feeling”:

  • Increase class offerings and be prepared for increased enrollments.
  • Increase publicity and “marketing” for programs and classes at this time of year.
  • Connect with line managers – they often have a back to school feeling too and may be more inclined to support enrollments for their employees now.
  • Theme “back to school” in communications (you know, chalk and blackboards, apples) and class props (PowerPoint has several fun templates with this theme).
  • Be prepared to help learners focus. After a more relaxed summer that probably included at least one week of vacation, they may need a little more assistance getting focused.
  • Use “back to school” as an opportunity to reconnect with previous participants to reinforce what they have learned previously.
      o Spruce up that course webpage 

    • Send an email asking participants’ managers and/or trainees themselves how they are applying their learning
    • Remind participants how they said they would overcome obstacles to apply what they learned.
    • Check in with training buddies and/or support groups
    • Pay a visit to a job site to check in on previous participants

For yourself:

  • Consider your own professional development. Take a class. It’s always interesting to be on the other “side of the fence” for a change.
  • Consider a certification for yourself. These days more importance seems to be placed on certificates and certifications. How do you stack up with your peers?
  • Ask yourself: what do I want to learn that I don’t know? What’s the best way to learn it? Check out our Sticky Workshops for increasing your knowledge and skill at making learning stick.
  • If you’re not taking at least 2 weeks of professional development each year, you’re not keeping up with your learners!
  • Consider going back to school and getting a degree or another degree. Many online programs make this more convenient than ever.

Until next time…
Barbara

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