Providing gDocs Training 8/24/11

Originally at Simple Is Working – 8/24/11
Today I went back and had a taste of what my former life was like and it was a great reality check.  I provided two, three-hour training sessions – Introduction to Google Docs for staff in my old school district. The training seemed to be well received by the participants and from what I could see – no one fell asleep.  ;P

Actually, I consider myself a pretty good trainer and believe that I did a good job facilitating the two sessions.  Even though during the afternoon session the computers were acting pretty “wonky” (technical term for not acting like they did in the morning), we got through it with only a few glitches and without skipping any important parts of the presentation.

My favorite slide was this one. I try to add something like it any presentation that I do.  This one slide helps me be more flexible if things are not going right (sometimes you just have to trash a presentation and wing it – due to whatever reason) or if I need to change the presentation to meet the needs of the participants.

Getting ready for this Introduction to Google Docs was about 10 hours of prep time for a 3 hour presentation.  In order to give a quality training, you do have to do a lot of preparation even for a subject you are very knowledgeable about, otherwise you get a crappy presentation and if there are glitches (and there almost always are), they will fluster you and really screw up your session.

When I left the house this morning, I was a little nervous, but confident of the content of the training session, because of all the prep work. Doing this prep work did remind me of how much work is involved in teaching: preparing, presenting, correcting, recording the results and then having to do it 5 days a week.  Boy I wonder how I did it all those years I was a teacher?

Soapbox Alert (If you don’t want to read this section skip down to where the Soapbox is over)

Every group is different and if an instructor doesn’t take those differences into account and just bulls their way through a presentation as is, without regard to the needs of the people you are presenting to, it usually turns out to be a very boring presentation.

I have found that most people learn by doing, much more than setting there and listening to someone pontificate about how great they are and how to do something, without letting them do something related to what you are teaching – preferably several hands-on sections. Teaching or presenting is not a see how great or smart I am opportunity – some forget that.

The students or trainees just tune you out and eventually walk-out (unless they are students, then they have to suffer through mindless or boring lectures where they don’t learn anything anyway). I know that I hate that kind of professional development and wouldn’t purposely subject others to it when I am the training facilitator.

I am now at the point in my life (yes it is official – I am getting old and crotchety) where I won’t be rude to a presenter (in most cases, because I know how hard it is), but at the same time if a presenter is horrible, I will not stick around – my time is much too valuable to me, especially if I am paying for the training or class.

As one of my students said when we going through their expectations “Don’t be boring.”

When I asked her after the session if I had been boring – She smiled and said “Nope you did a pretty good job.”  I’ll take that from another teacher any day of the week.

I will get off that soapbox.

Anyway going back into the building and seeing a lot of the people who I worked with last year or two, was great. Remembering old times and talking about what we did over the summer break was interesting and very cool.

However, there was a difference in most of those conversations, I was an outsider now and the conversations all seemed to end on a variation of “you don’t know how lucky you are, Harold”. Looking back at those conversations tonight, believe me I do realize how lucky I am.

I even went and looked at my old room and while the person who is replacing me hasn’t really started making changes to the room there were some. I didn’t feel the connection that I had when I left it in June and I knew that room was no longer a part of my life (it was then that I realized that I had made the right choice).

However, I did have to laugh when my replacement was having problems opening the bottom drawer to the file cabinet and all I did was go over and opened it, much to her chagrin.  I got a few choice words for that (I have worked with the person who is replacing me for several years and we know each other very well) and then we laughed a bit.  But even that was not the same.

Today was great reality check and reminder that I am no longer part of the new team, the many things that I will not miss about teaching and there really is not much of chance that I would voluntarily go back to that daily grind, without some significant arm-twisting – any time soon.

I am simply enjoying myself too much, even though what I am doing involves a lot more physical labor, but there is very little stress compared to teaching. The schedule that my wife and I have at home is doing things that we want to do at our pace and if they don’t get done today, there is almost always tomorrow to get it done – which is just a little different from the day-to-day stress of teaching (sarcasm). My diet has changed for the better and I get to see the results of my labor, which I am finding more important to me than I thought it would be. I am starting to get used to the simple life that I am living.

So here is to the unknown that the next year will bring to the table and I hope that it is as great as I think it will be.