boring teacher
Having trouble keeping their attention?

It has come to my attention that, on occasion, I can be wrong.

At the recent Weatherization Training Network Trainer’s Consortium, where IREC was invited to talk about instructional design, I confessed that I didn’t always recognize the need to actively improve as a trainer. What was I thinking?

To atone for my cavalier (and mistaken) belief, I gladly share five things I’m learning to help me improve my skills as a trainer:

  1. Determine what my students have mastered and what they haven’t. A national certification exam can’t give me data at the level I need to change my delivery. But in-class written and hands-on tests, correctly developed, administered and scored, can.
  1. Assess each student individually to gather information that will help me improve my instruction, and, more importantly, arm my students with tools for success. Group exercises are great for concept building and practice, but an assessment of an individual tells you what each has learned.
  1. Evaluate students on concepts that have a high chance of error, particularly if that error has a high consequence.
  1. Identify competencies students should master, and capture each competency in a clearly written learning objective.
  1. Use specific and measurable learning objectives. List, demonstrate, analyze, design, and interpret are examples of measurable verbs. Understand, increase knowledge, be aware of are not – so, these last ones don’t belong in my learning objectives.

It shouldn’t be hard to improve your instruction, but you must be willing to change. An on-line search of ‘learning objectives’ reveals a consistent definition, detailed explanations, and lists of action verbs at all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Or visit the IREC website for the best practices series on developing a quality clean energy program. This is an excellent resource for any educator, regardless of discipline.

If you already do these things – write clear learning objectives and assess them – share your experiences and knowledge with others. The Trainer’s Consortium for the Weatherization Training Center network (WTC) and the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) are two excellent sources for trainers to keep current on technology and pedagogy skills and to lead our industry together. If we want to see a stronger, more skilled clean energy workforce – it begins with YOU in your classroom.

My tune has changed. I can be a better trainer. My students can get more out of my classes. But first, I’ve got some work to do.

Are you a trainer working to improve instruction in your classroom? Send your comments to [email protected].