Classroom Training is a Bit Like Live Theater

The choreography matters.

When you go to see a play – whether a local high school production or a Broadway musical – a lot of time, thought and rehearsals are devoted to where the actors will stand and how they will move across the stage.  They don’t show up each night with a general idea of how they’ll approach the show.  There is a very intentional plan for how the performance will proceed.

I spent the past few weeks reviewing my colleagues’ lesson plans.  My biggest contribution has been to ask for more detail from them.

Here is an example of something I’ve seen a lot recently in lesson plans I’ve been reviewing:


Content/Key Points

Instructional Technique

60 min. Coaching – Application

  • Have learners work in groups of 3 or 4; rotate roles as coach, coachee and observer(s)
  • Large group discussion

Small group work

Large group de-brief

While I never advocate for a verbatim script in a lesson plan, I strongly suggest that instructions for each activity are spelled out in detail.  For the example above, I have several questions:

  • Does it matter how the small groups are created?
  • Should supervisors be part of (or perhaps be intentionally separated from) their direct reports during this activity?
  • To save time, should the facilitator simply assign groupings or is it ok for participants to spend several minutes breaking up into groups of their own choosing?
  • When it comes to the observers, will they simply give general feedback or will there be a specific observation form they’ll use?
  • When it comes to rotations, does it matter that groups of 4 will only have 15 minutes per rotation while groups of 3 will have 20 minutes per rotation?
  • Will the large group discussion have any structure?
  • Are there specific questions that should be asked during the large group de-brief?

When people take time out of their schedules to participate in a training session, we training professionals owe them a good show.  Having a general idea of what we want to happen and then just “winging it” at the time of the presentation generally doesn’t make for a great show.

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