Reminder to myself: Training Day

24 Jan

I was born a highly disciplined and meticulous student. I automatically KNEW how to study, made elaborate timetables,finished school portions daily, wrote exams with gusto, and was unbeatable in my class. All this, without stressing myself out, or without having any pressure or guidance from my parents . Studying hard, was just part of who I was as a child. Very unfortunately, teenage and my 11th and 12th std, pushed me out of this equation, and I never completely found my way back. I slipped from being a brilliant student, to a bad one, in my pre-degree days and then spend the rest of my student life as an above average student.

 

One of the very many advantages of being an adult is that, we do not have to study, or prepare for routine exams. The very few scenarios in which we do study, are if we are preparing ourselves for an interview, or if you have to get a professional certification. Both of which happens once in a few years, at best. Most of us completely forget how to learn .Taking life as it comes and becoming too comfortable with our steady income, and unchallenging life.

 

However, push did come to shove for me, and I had to STUDY, and with a deadline, when I was asked to conduct a training. I went from never reading more than two pages at a stretch to finishing 12 modules. And after five stressful days, of an (above average) training, I have come up with a method of studying, worth sharing, I believe.

This is as much for myself, as for any one else, who is struggling to learn, get back to studying/teaching, Or was never a good student in the first place, professional or otherwise.

The worst idea that stands between anyone  being a good student is the tag of being called “nerdy” (aka Buji in my mother tongue) . This doesn’t happen a lot in your workplace, but sure does happen in colleges and schools . Being good at studies, automatically means that we don’t have fun  a good dressing sense , let alone good looks. Being good in class, makes us “UNCOOL”. I really have never understood how this propaganda ever evolved. I still hear, some of my friends refer to some extremely successful people who studied with them  as “nerds”, as if it’s a bad thing to study. As if it’s a bad thing to know everything and top your class?

I have always been in awe of class toppers. I love good marks, gold medals and first ranks. All of these achievements never made anyone boring. It just made them extremely dedicated focused disciplined and attractive. And believe me I know some real head turners, who are gold medalists. So if you think studying makes you “uncool”, I think you are just plain stupid.

Before I lose my momentum and go back to my procrastinating ways, let me quickly jot down the many things that I took note of about how I could conduct a training, or study. I hope this helps everyone preparing for an exam and myself next time I have to study.

  1. Method of studying. 

With the advent of Multiple Choice question pattern, it is important to remember all the minute details, and the numbers, and the various options. But this also means we have lost touch with writing 500 word essays about a single topic. The art of writing an essay or a long answer, for a single sentence question, is that we need to remember a lot of characteristics of the particular topic. And we need to elaborate on them, as much as we know. Remember naming conventions. Terminology. Remember the advantages and disadvantages. Remember everything related to a single topic, with no cue.

Preparing for a training, is kind of like preparing to write a whole essay. Remembering all the relevant details, WITHOUT having to look back or read from a book. Cause reading from a book looks foolish when you are conducting a class. So as unfortunate as this is going to sound,  for a training , we need to know what comes next, and anything and everything related to a subtopic, BY HEART. The key word is by heart.

2.Basics

It’s good to start with basics. Basics people might have forgotten. Basics students are ashamed to ask questions about. Basics which will get your understanding of the subject right. And not be ashamed to touch upon basics, everytime you get a chance, no matter how simple or irrelevant it seems. So that people, who might be lost, amidst the training, could get back to what we are actually trying to teach them.

3. The 3-time Rule
I have mentioned in a previous study blog, which I will link to here. The importance of studying the same thing, multiple times. My magic number being three. Because each time you learn something, you will get more insight to it. The idea is to get it into your core being. Cause conducting a training means answering a lot of questions, which could get quite confusing. Unless you REALLY know, what you are talking about. The only way to really know is to learn the same thing multiple times, till you know it like the back of your hand.
4. Relating with the known.
There are concepts we know, and there are concepts we are learning afresh. There is no way we can learn something afresh, without relating it to something we know. This could be similies, comparisons, similar products or technologies we already have an idea about.
5.Create a flow in the training.
Start with something basic, slowly building it up, to form a new idea
6. Prepare timelines. 
If you are expected to take an 8 hour class, you should know how you are going to segregate  the hours for each topic. This is closely related to point no 1. Cause unless you know all the points related to a subtopic, by heart, and unless they are being presented in a flow, you will probably finish of everything you wanted to explain in 20 mins. And not have much to do for the next few hours.
7. Revise always
It always helps to cram up the whole portion the night before, or during breaks. Cause you remain fresh, and you are much more prepared to answer questions, while you are fresh. However, don’t expect to learn a topic anew during the cramming hours. It’s just to revise.
8. Avoid the powerpoint curse
In the beginning of my career, training’s usually consisted of, a person reading from a powerpoint presentation. He wasn’t bothered about if the people were listening, if we slept, snored or smsed.  It was refreshing that he didn’t care about how we behaved. What wasn’t refreshing was that he didn’t care about the training either. This was a norm for professional training.  That’s till my husband told me about his favorite trainer, and how he never used anything but a pen and a board. So if you are ever conducting a training, the only time I would say its ok to use your slides is, when you have a diagram to show, and when you aren’t good at drawing.
Finally try not to lose touch with seeking knowledge continuously. (Big reminder to myself). Maybe next time you will actually enjoy, writing an exam, or attending an interview, or conducting a class. Because you are so perfectly  prepared you just want to show off.

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