Training and Relevance.

In a discussion with my soon to be sister in law, Nicole, discussing teachers and education staff development days I mentioned to her that I recently met with the leadership staff of a school, and we talked about why teachers are calling in sick on staff development days. I spoke to the principal about what was causing these teachers who are professionals in their fields to miss development days. He did not have a very good answer.

In my talk with Nicole at first she supported this behavior, “Maybe they are sick, Mike.” to which I responded, “come on Nicole you know exactly what they are doing.” After some prodding by me, she said that she also as a younger teacher dislikes many staff development days.

Why is that?
Why do teachers choose not to attend or gain knowledge from staff and professional development training offered by their employers?
That night I went home puzzled. I talked to my fiancee Christine about this, who just said that I was crazy and to let it go.

· Teachers have a master degree in education; perhaps they feel they know everything already.
· Teachers have limited time to work on their lesson plans with the students not being present
· Teachers as a dislike culture training
· The leadership of the school is setting a poor model of professional development

After these and many more thoughts, it came to me RELEVANCE.

As a consultant who works with adult teams (non-profit, corporate, education) one of my struggles has been making the training relevant to the participants. That is the responsibility of the trainer, not the participant. If as a consultant I cannot facilitate clients to make a relevant connection between what we are speaking about and doing with their immediate problems, and long term plans, I have failed.

I spoke to some teachers about this and asked them what training they enjoyed (some facilitated by me some by other companies) some answers;
· ones that showed me things I can use to make my job easier
· programs that I could institute into the classroom immediately
· Workshops that included us in the training. When presenters did not talk down to us as teachers and we felt that we were part of the solution.

This all came back to relevance to the participants. So how do you find relevance as a trainer, leader, consultant, etc…?

Get to know your audience, prior to the program ask them what they are struggling with. Now I know that we cannot always do this.
Put yourself in their shoes, “If I was a teacher who has been in a school for 15 years, what would make me attend a staff development day?”

What makes workshops and trainings you attend relevant?
Teachers do enjoy learning, what relevance are they looking for?
What would make you not just arrive, but truly be excited to have a staff development day?