Create a Safe Haven for Adult Learning in the Classroom and Online
It would be great if everything you did as a trainer went just the way it is supposed to, but it won’t. Some learners may arrive thinking that training is punishment. Others may arrive with memories of past learning experiences in mind, such as a boring webinar or failing tests. Yet others may arrive bringing their daily burdens with them.
You can build trust with your learners and create a safe haven for learning for everyone by using some of these ideas in your traditional or virtual classroom:
Be prepared early enough so that you can welcome participants as they arrive, learn their names, and allow time for them to learn something about others.
Share the learning objectives early, prior to the session, if possible.
Let participants know how they will benefit from the information — it’s the old WIIFM (what’s in it for me).
Demonstrate your respect for each individual.
Ensure confidentiality and encourage participants to chat with you in private if necessary.
Remember that your participants always come first. Respect their time, their opinions, and their expertise.
Use your learners’ names early and with sincere reinforcement throughout the training to build rapport. Use cues to help you remember names.
Use names in a traditional classroom
Use table tents on which participants write their names as a cue in a traditional classroom. Some facilitators prefer to use name badges. Whatever your choice, be sure that you can read them. For example, ask participants to use a marker to write their first names large enough front and back so that everyone can read them from across the room. If you use preprinted table tents, ensure that the type size is bold and can be read from 40 feet.
Use names in a virtual classroom
Keep a list of all participant names next to you. Even if you have a host or administrative person who “opens” the classroom by checking audio connections and other tasks, you, the facilitator, should welcome participants. This begins to build rapport.
You should encourage participants to join ten minutes early. Greet each person by name. Add a short comment such as “welcome back” or “what is your location?” This helps build rapport early. Call on people by name during your virtual session too.