During the last few months I worked a lot with teachers. While I used to hold rather programmed courses on how to use certain tools, I started changing my tune to listening much more to the teacher’s very own preferences on how they want to use technologies in their educational settings.

Let me tell you about one specific case: A few months ago I was commissioned to hold courses for a teaching staff that had hardly used any digital tools in their classes. They were still using overhead projectors and printed course materials, and the teachers themselves were more in the upper age range. I knew it in advance that it would be challenging, and I realized that with this demographic it would be anything but useful to hold a conventionally structured course the way I’d usually do and also usually would be expected by my clients.

So, instead of putting myself at the center of attention, I gave the stage to the teachers and their needs. The only things I prepared were a line-up of tools and a few inspiring video examples on how to use them. Thereby, I gave the teachers the opportunity to make their own decisions as to which tools to use, how to use them and, subsequently, where they needed my help. This type of training completely reverses the traditional structure of teachers training, and I can still see the look on my clients face and how surprised he was when I did, what he called, give up control. Yet, I was thoroughly convinced that this type of training could be used on teachers with great effect – and, as it turns out, it did.

Although this type of training required more preparation, I saw how giving the course participants these different options and choices would be much more motivating, and I was really impressed how they got invested in their training, and how this improved my relationship with them as well.

Especially teachers with higher number of year of service are often struggling for power. That’s why I told them from the start that I wasn’t there to tell them what to do, and that I wasn’t that type of trainer they might be used to neither, that I wasn’t just holding courses where the participants have to sit down, shut up and listen to the trainer. Instead, I told them that they were just as important as I was, not least because they knew their students better than I did. They knew how their students learn and that that was why I would have to depend on their cooperation. It was very interesting to see how positively the teachers responded to this change in the balance of power. I could tell that they felt valued and respected, and as a result, I was genuinely surprised how positively and enthusiastically they took to what for them were new technologies.

For technology trainers who are looking for a way to get their participants engaged and excited about what they’re learning, personalized training is the way to go. Therefore, stop applying strict „how do“-trainings and let teachers find their own voice instead. Trainers who talk less and give course participants a voice are giving them a chance to see the use of technology in any given settings in a constructive and positive way, and to enjoy themselves while they’re at it as well.

Let me know what you think.