I have a confession to make. Recently, I used vacation time to stay home and watch Season 6 of The Walking Dead. I know, I know. How could I have let myself miss a whole season? Oh, and I feel a little bad about taking the time off from work too, but this was very nearly an emergency! I mean it was only weeks before Season 7 of the season premiere. I had to do something. Don’t judge.
While I was watching, I had the strangest feeling of deja vu. I felt like I had actually walked through a herd of zombies, but couldn’t quite place why it felt so familiar. Then it hit me—I had unknowingly created zombie-like participants during at least two of my previous CLASS trainings.
It wasn’t intentional. Both groups had pleaded with me to shorten their breaks, or as in one case, do without breaks all together. I knew it wasn’t a good idea, but they had such overwhelming arguments that I finally gave in both times. And both times I regretted it. After the first day, I only saw mild zombie tendencies, stiff walking and some grumbling. After day two, there was no mistaking what had happened—they grumbled and growled from their seats, their eyes had glazed over, and they were unable to raise their arms or speak coherently to participate in discussions! I swore that after my second Zombie Apocalypse, I would not let that happen again. And I haven’t. I feel it is my duty to share some tips to help you avoid a Zombie Apocalypse from happening during your trainings. We zombie fighters (a.k.a. CLASS trainers) must stick together!
The following 5 R’s help keep my participants from turning into zombies during my trainings. Trust me they will work for you. No weapons needed!
R#1: Refuse to give up breaks. I know, I know. I’ve heard all the excuses: the traffic is terrible if we don’t leave before 4:30, it’s homecoming and my child is in the parade, my dog is diabetic and needs to be fed the same time everyday, etc. Some of them are very compelling. But, remember, as professional trainers we know what is best for our participants. I’m not a heartless human being, but the amount of information that we have to cover is mind-boggling. We send out agendas before the trainings. People know what is expected of them before they come to training and they should plan accordingly.
R#2: Refresh. Everyone needs a potty break sometimes. We also need fluids and fuel to help us maintain our strength. And as a trainer, you need a break, too. You have to eat, drink water, go to the restroom, check phone messages, check on struggling participants, prepare, and just clear your mind every once in a while. If refreshments aren’t provided, remind participants where the nearest watering hole and vending machines are located.
R#3: Re-energize. You’ve seen it. Usually around 10:45am or 2:30pm, the eyes start to droop, the yawns start to spread, no hands are going up to share. It feels like someone has taken an energy vacuum and sucked all the energy out of the room (your energy, included!). Don’t let this happen. Encourage everyone to get up and stretch. Give them a short break to move around the room. You will be surprised how much this helps. If the sun is shining tell them to go get sunshine. A lot of our training rooms have no windows. We all need fresh air and sunshine. It helps us think better and feel better.
R#4: Rest. Just because their bodies haven’t been moving much doesn’t mean their brains haven’t been working overtime. This is where your expertise as a CLASS trainer trumps their opinions on what they need. Participants may not feel physically tired and may not think they need a rest, but they do. Their brains are working overtime to take in and process all this new information. The break will give their brains a chance to catch up. They’ll be able to think more clearly and participate in discussions.
R#5: Respect your participants’ time. They have so many things going on in their lives in addition to the training. I always try to start on time and end on time. As for my breaks, I tell them how long we will be breaking and I write the time I expect them back in their seats ready to learn. For example, I’ll say we are going to take a 15-minute break so be back in your seats at 2:45, ready to learn. I write 2:45 on some chart paper and point to it. And guess what? At 2:45 I ease back into the training (with or without them!). It works. If you keep waiting on people to get back, your breaks will get longer and longer because participants figure out that you will wait for them. If they know that you will start with or without them, they will make the extra effort to get back on time.
So now I’ve shared with you my plan to avoid a Zombie Apocalypse from happening during my trainings. If you follow my 5 R’s (Refuse, Refresh, Re-energize, Rest, and Respect), you too can keep the zombies at bay, at least during your CLASS trainings.
Do you have any zombie-training stories to share? How did you fight the dreaded eye glazes, yawns, and grumbles? Let us know in the comments!
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When I first learned about CLASS Group Coaching—a training for early childhood professionals about building relationships with children—I was more than a little interested. This, I thought. This is what teaching is all about. It seems to be an obvious concept, but once we dig deeper, we are able to identify the whys and hows of our interactions. CLASS Group Coaching allows us to identify the benefits of our classroom relationships with our students and helps us be intentional in our daily practices. It allows us to utilize each moment we have with our students to deepen our understanding of their perspectives and genuinely connect with them as people. It helps us see the world from their view and guide their learning in a way that is relevant to them.
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As we head into elections, I've been crafting a story to share with my local legislators. I want to let them know the many glorious reasons why they need to fund early childhood education.
Everyone knows stories matter, so as I stared at my blank piece of paper I found myself wondering: