How can trainers show thanks to their learners?

With Thanksgiving (in the United States) coming up this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we show gratitude to others. I definitely think there are very powerful ways that we, as trainers, can show our gratitude to our learners.

Put some effort into room set up

What the learners find when they walk into your room goes a long way to setting the tone for the session and says a lot for how you’ve prepared for them.

Make your session mean something (even if they don’t want to be there)

Sometimes people come to our sessions when they don’t want to, and sometimes they come with expectations that don’t align with what you’re planning to cover. One thing I like to do is begin sessions by simply asking people to introduce themselves and share one expectation they have for the day. If their expectation aligns with the scope of the session, great. If not, I take their out-of-scope expectation and put it into the Parking Lot so that I can talk with them in more depth during a break. Sometimes fate intervenes and allows me to cover parking lot items in the flow of conversations that emerge organically in a session as well.

Keep them engaged

One of the foundational philosophies underlying the training that my colleagues and I design is Dialogue Education. Based on Jane Vella’s work, we adhere to her 12 principles which are basically a “thank you note” for training attendees. Concepts such as ensuring a safe environment for learners to participate, working in partnership with learners, ensuring relevance of content and ensuring practice with reflection (praxis) are all key components.

Delight them with something new

Sometimes “new” is the content you’re delivering. Sometimes “new” is a model you’re sharing, a process or procedure or a new way to solve a problem. Sometimes “new” is a way for them to engage – tools like PollEverywhere and Kahoot often excite my participants so much that they want to bring it in to their own future presentations.

Celebrate their accomplishments

Celebrating a recent train-the-trainer session by awarding each graduate their very own pack of Mr. Sketch markers

Assuming you’ve engaged your learners and allowed them to get involved in your session, offering opportunities to celebrate what they’ve learned and demonstrated they can do in your session is appreciation/celebration-worthy.

What’s missing? How do you appreciate and offer thanks to your learners?

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