How to Engage Your Colleagues in Training

Most of the people who read this blog are teachers and you’ll be well versed in engaging your pupils in your lessons.  But have you ever been asked to deliver a training session to a group of your peers?  Now that is a whole different kettle of fish.


We always encourage people to share the learning they’ve have on Creative Education courses with their peers back at school as it’s a great way to form common goals and it adds value to the day’s training that your school or department has paid for.  We often get the feedback that teachers aren’t sure how best to engage their colleagues in training sessions so I thought it would be helpful to put together some ideas.


Preparation is Key

When you’re delivering training to people that you already know on a topic you feel fairly comfortable with, there can be a temptation to ‘wing it’.  This is the surest way to fail.  Ensuring that you spend time to prepare adequately is vital.  Think through what you’re going to say and why.  Take time to prepare a presentation or handouts if it will help with your delivery and think through the types of questions that are likely to arise and how you might answer them.  This way you won’t get caught off guard and you can focus on delivering the message you set out to rather than going around in circles, or getting flustered or frustrated.


Have Clear Aims

You’d never walk in to a lesson without a set of clear aims and objectives in mind.  Training your colleagues is no different.  Understand why you are here and share those aims with your colleagues.  You should be working together towards a shared goal or vision as a department and by sharing goals at the beginning of the training session your colleagues will be able to work with you to make the session a success.  They should be more motivated than many of your students!


Be Honest If You’re Nervous

However used to teaching pupils you are, teaching adults, and especially adults you know, can be a whole lot more nerve wracking.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Often by sharing your feelings and making a light joke of it you can dispel some of the tension and ensure your colleagues help the session to run smoothly.



Use What You Know About Your Colleagues to Get Them Interested

One advantage of delivering training to a group of people you are familiar with is that you know what makes them tick. Use this to your advantage.  If Mr Jones is a bit of a stick in the mud but mad keen on Bolton United build a football analogy into your training session early on to get him on board.


Tailor What You’re Delivering to Make It as Relevant as Possible

You may be sharing learning from an external training day (maybe even a Creative Education Open course…)  and inevitably this training will have been likely to try to address the needs of many different types of school or department.  You’re in the position of knowing the unique challenges faced by you and your colleagues and to fully understand your priorities.  So instead of sharing the exact information you were taught, tailor your training session to highlight the most salient points which will best help your department move forwards.



Keep Sessions Short and Time Them Right

It’s likely that you’ll be delivering your session as part of a departmental meeting, or another time when – if we’re absolutely honest – we know that people’s minds will be wandering to what they’re going to have for tea and what’s on the box tonight.  For this reason you’ll find your training is most effective if you can keep it short and sweet.  If you have any control at all over when to deliver the session (if you are delivering as part of a training day) then the morning is always the best time.  You’ll know from the classroom that after lunch is the very worst time as everyone has a full tummy and a tired mind!



Keep To the Principles of Good Teaching

You know what makes a lesson good or bad and the basics are the same when teaching adults.  Don’t let your good practice go out of the window just because the average age of your pupils has gone up a few decades.   Differentiate, create opportunities for interaction and regularly review learning.  You already know how to do this well, you just need to apply it to a fresh situation.


Ask For Feedback and Act On It

The easiest way to deliver an even better session next time is to find out what your colleagues found good and not so good about this session.  So ask for honest feedback.  Your colleagues should respect your desire to learn and be happy to work with you.  This works well in the classroom too by the way!



Offer Practical Advice That Can Be Used Right Away

There’s nothing worse than attending a dull training session which seems to go on forever and which has no impact on the way you do things.  Don’t fall into the trap of delivering a highly theoretical session.  Instead, use what you know about your department’s priorities to help apply the learning in a practical context and ensure that everyone walks away with some really practical ideas that they can put into practice right away.  That way you can be assured that your session will have an impact.


Review the Impact Your Session Had

Keep track after a week, a month or even a term of how the session that you delivered has impacted on your colleagues’ practice.  It’s really satisfying to find that you’ve managed to have a positive impact on the way that people are going about their job.  If you find that your session didn’t have the lasting impact you’d hoped for then it might be time to take a step back and assess how you might improve things next time.



I hope you found some of these ideas helpful – do you have any ideas to add?


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