Watching kids learn may be one of the greatest privileges of being a parent. Sure, it can be painful when it takes them three times as long as you to do a simple task, and there are often large messes or mistakes. But the sense of pride and accomplishment when kids master a task they set out to learn is inspiring.
I am not sure I can write a mini blog series on lessons I’ve learned in parenting without including a poop story, can I? But don’t worry, thankfully, this blog comes sans smells, and I will leave out most of the gory details.
When our youngest was two months old, we traveled as a family to Southern California for vacation. The trip unfortunately coincided with some constipation for our little one. With little babies, this isn’t necessarily uncommon. However, most caregivers know that after a poop hiatus, when it comes, it’s likely to be EPIC… so we were on high alert.
Very recently, I took a long weekend trip to visit my best friend from college. This was the first time I have traveled alone in a long time. No kids, no strollers, no diapers. Heaven.
I was very surprised when my bag got searched at security. But when the TSA Agent pulled a full 16 ounce waterbottle out of a crumpled brown paper bag marked “For Mom”, we both laughed. Much to my surprise, my middle kiddo had packed me a “care package” that included travel-sized hand sanitizer, two bandaids, a rubber band, a sticker, and a full water bottle.
My colleague Erin Clarke joined our team at Endurance Learning last year. Every once in a while when we’re talking in a meeting or a 1:1, she’ll mention something about her experience as a parent and I’ll respond: Wow, that’s true in parenting and in instructional design!
Over the next few weeks, Erin will be sharing a series of posts that offer some transferable lessons she’s learned by being a parent that can also be used in the world of learning and development or instructional design. Some topics Erin will touch on include:
Surprise and delight
“I do it!”
Try something new
For today, however, Erin begins with a lesson on how context can be everything.
Here is Erin, in her own words:
What my kids taught me about my work
In early 2020, with the onset of the global pandemic, I was laid off from a job in Learning and Development that I loved. This caused both a state of panic and a state of relief. One on hand, I was unemployed and that felt scary. And on the other hand, I felt like I finally had time and space to more fully focus on my “other full time job” of “mom”. At that time, my kids were 7, 4, and 4 months. I felt like I was drowning in all the unknowns and concurrently trying to raise three humans who were equally as confused. It felt bananas. You can likely relate.
But I did it. I woke up every day and changed from my nighttime comfy clothes to my daytime comfy clothes. I supervised online school, did countless crafts, and played with my babies. I had traded my trusty Mr. Sketch markers for crayons, my emails for coloring pages and my team meetings for hours watching Daniel Tiger.
I’d never not worked outside the home before and it felt important to me to not “lose my skills”. So I made it a priority to slowly (think 1 or 2 a month) network with folks I had worked with in the past to keep up with trends and ensure I could stay relevant in the field. One of those early conversations was with a coach friend of mine. She shared that she has often coached professionals who are also parents and encouraged them to draw parallels from their home life to their professional life. This made me curious. Could the things I was experiencing as a full-time stay-at-home parent actually help me in my future career? Could it be that I may be a better employee and manager one day because of my time at home?
Spoiler alert: the answer to those questions is “yes!”.
This is the first of five part mini-series where I share a few lessons I’ve learned from my kids. Lessons that have sharpened my skills and made me a better professional. Perhaps they will inspire you to reflect on things you may have learned “off the clock” that make you a better you in the workplace. If so, please share so we can learn together!
I’ve got three kids. My husband and I joke that we have moved from one-on-one to zone defense. Sometimes it feels like there are kids everywhere and life is loud.
My youngest is now 2. He’s vibrant and charming and very stereotypically two. He also has two older sisters who take great joy in helping him and teaching him new things. One day recently, we were driving to the grocery store and from the back seat he said “Abbott”.
“What?” I said, waiting for the light to turn green and trying to keep my eyes ahead.
His voice was a bit more intense.
I had no idea what he was saying, so I tried distraction.
“Oh, that’s ok sweetie, we will be there soon! Here’s your water cup” and I handed back his water.
Oh geez. I really had no idea what that meant.
“Yep, drink your water!” Smiling and saying it in a sing-song voice hoping that would be a ‘good enough’ reply.
“Abbott! Me Abbott! Abbott me!!!”
Now he was crying and I was truly confused.
Ok. I’m going to have to figure this out.
“Girls?” I said to my older kids who were also in the car, “do either of you know what he’s saying?”
My oldest leaned over in her seat next to him, picked up his stuffed elephant off the floor and handed it to him.
Elephant! Of course. (In case you’re wondering, “elephant” sounds like “Abbott” when you can’t properly pronounce all your syllables yet.)
My oldest kid knew what my youngest meant because she could see the stuffed animal on the floor and saw him fervently pointing to it. From my perspective as a driver, I couldn’t see that. She also had been the one to help him nickname the elephant “Abbott” since that’s what it sounded like he was saying and I didn’t know that. Her perspective and context helped her make sense of the ask.
I was thinking about this car exchange later that day and realized that it is not unlike my work when I wear my instructional designer hat.
When it comes to learning, our context and perspective shape our experience and help us make sense of the information we hear. When we create training, we always keep the learner in mind. What context might they already have? What perspective will they be taking on when they complete this course? Adult learning theory posits that adults learn best when they can bring their past experiences and build on them. And much like what I was reminded of from this backseat exchange, we need different ways of having content presented to us in order to make the most sense of it. Had my two year old said “floor” or “down”, I might have been able to glance there and better intuit what he needed.
My kids taught me: We all listen and interpret things differently. Good instructional design will bring different ways to learn the content.
Share your experience! What ways have you presented your content in a slightly different way to engage your learner and help them bring context and experience?
On last week’s podcast, I made the point that there is a big difference between “engaging training” and “effective training” (and I suggested that “effective training” should always be the goal). Today, I’m re-visiting the concept of learner engagement, because engagement (with intention) is an essential element to training that ultimately proves effective.
In this 10-minute podcast, I share 5 different strategies that can be applied at various points in time during your presentation – from even before your presentation begins to the waning moments of your training program.
Have you ever put together a really good training program and then wondered what made it so good? What was it about your training program that you wish you could bottle and pour out into your next training program, and the training program after that?
Having a solid foundation on the principles that can make your training programs consistently effective is one of the most fundamental things you can do as someone in the field of learning.
I found out that January 4 is National Trivia Day.
To kick off 2022 and commemorate such a special day, here is a set of seven training-related questions that range from kind of easy to super nerdy. As you take a look at some of these questions, feel free to drop additional nerdy training trivia into the comment section and see if you can stump me!
A few weeks ago, I was preparing to deliver a 60-minute workshop revolving around the concepts from my book, What’s Your Formula? My challenge, which is probably a variation of an issue many of you have run in to as well, was: how do I cover all the things from a 200-page book in 60 minutes… and leave time for interactions, activities and Q&A?
As I stared at my screen, preparing to write a lesson plan, an idea came to me. I thought it was brilliant. When I went to test my idea in a practice session with some colleagues in advance of the real session, I received feedback that helped me to feel I was actually going to cover everything I needed to in the one hour I was allotted for my session.
Will your learners be taking your next online course from a desktop computer? Will they be taking it on a laptop or tablet or some other handheld device?
When creating eLearning modules and courses, it’s imperative to validate the look, feel, and function of the courses before they are in the hands of your client, SMEs, and learners. If you use Storyline or Rise, Articulate 360 provides an easy and convenient way to do this through preview mode while in development and publishing to Review 360. Using Review 360 allows you to review Rise modules and Storyline courses with a click of a button.
You’ve now previewed each page as you built it and it looks great! But is this approach enough to show you how a learner will experience your module?