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September 20, 2011  |   Comments (2)   |   Post a comment

Getting the most out of in-service training

Theories on adult learning suggest that for it to be effective, educators must gain buy-in from the adults, get them involved in the topic and keep presentations fresh. Creating a theme for instructional sessions, a technique that can easily be applied to training for pupil transporters, helps to achieve buy-in and involvement.

by Keith Lowery


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Lowery says building a meeting around a theme can create excitement, build morale, generate anticipation and increase attention spans.
<p>Lowery says building a meeting around a theme can create excitement, build morale, generate anticipation and increase attention spans.</p>

Driver instructor conference roundup

By now, the 2011 Maryland Driver Instructor Conference is over, but a discussion of its team-building activities wouldn’t hurt.

The activity for the first night resembled “The Amazing Race” reality television show. In this version, 12 teams competed — three from each of the four groups. Challenges were set up around the venue, and teams were given clues to where the challenges were located.

The four groups were named after prominent figures in history or literature who challenged people to travel where their heart told them to go. Throughout the week, each group watched their progress on their own map, marking their trip around the world. The first group back to Maryland was the winner.

Summary
Malcolm Knowles believes that learning for an adult is different than learning is for a child. It could be argued, though, that adults have more fun and perhaps learn more when they act carefree and imaginative, like a child. So the next time you plan for your transportation in-service meeting or conference, “dream a little and theme a lot!”      

Keith Lowery is a supervisor at Montgomery County Public Schools’ transportation department in Rockville, Md. From 1999 to 2008, he worked in the county’s Safety & Training Unit. Since 2003, he has served on the planning committee for the bi-annual Maryland Driver Instructor Conference as a coordinator of themed events. Lowery received his bachelor’s degree in organizational psychology and development in 2007, and is currently working on a master’s degree in post-secondary and adult education. He can be reached at keith_b_lowery@mcpsmd.org with questions or comments about this article.


Knowles’ six core principles of andragogy

1.  Adults will pursue learning that they believe they need.
2. Instructors of adults should approach (take serious) their role as facilitators, catalysts and guides.
3. Adults should have control over their own approach to learning in an adult-oriented, cooperative, non-authoritarian setting and climate.
4. Learner involvement approaches to the teacher/learner process should be followed.
5. The adult should be viewed as a responsible, independent individual responsive to interdependent learning opportunities.
6. In addition to shared control and relevance, adult education should be based on authenticity of participants, instructors, procedures and goals.

Source: Gale Virtual Reference Library

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Read more about: in-service

Inservice training to be effective with adults attending must adapt the content to three groups in the audience: Regular Route Drivers, Special Needs Drivers and Special Needs Bus Monitors. Much of the monthly inservice training is geared for regular route drivers and does not address the unique questions, challenges and safety performance requirements to special needs driver teams. Another point please--the presenter should not read to the adults what is viewed onthe screen. Adults can read for themselves. The presenter should have brief statements on the screen and discuss each face-to-face with the audience and not turn away from them to read it aloud. Another challenge presenters often experience is the questions that occur mid-sentence, mid-thought or mid-presentation. A presenter who says "Hold all questions until the end of my presentation please." has lost the audience's urgent need for questions. Why not interrupt the presentation and deal with questions as they occur? The presenter should adopt the approach of "any question answered, any time asked." Further, if the presenter does not know the answer to some of the questions put forth by audience members that authority figure should say: "I don't know the answer but I will get back to you with it as soon as possible." This MUST be followed up with minimum delay to get the answer not only to the individual in the audience that asked it, but to all of the audience. The answer can come in the next monthly inservice meeting where all can hear, know and utilize the information provided. With adults in an adult audience we presenters must never "talk down" in any way at any time to those in the audience. Adults understandably resent this greatly and shut off their attention to the presenter and that content of the presentation. When you have lost your audience it becomes painfully clear to the presenter that everyone in the audience already knows what you are saying and needs to know more or they have hear

Dr. Ray Turner    |    Sep 21, 2011 02:48 PM

I was blessed with a country mother that knew how to trigger what is over 5 decades later referred to as ‘Self-directed learning.’ Not much later after birth (less than a year) my mother would began reading stories from books, then at about a year or so later began accumulating all sorts of curiosities. By the time I was a few years of age (2nd child) we had three complete encyclopedia sets in our living room, 1,000 stories children’s book collection volumes, all sorts of other books and magazines, including National Geographic, Life, Popular Mechanics, Ranger Rick, etc., eventually erector sets and wood construction sets (my sister and myself would combine these for expanded projects), science, electronic an biology project labs (made paper and tape missiles with fire crackers in the top that shot 400+ feet up, then exploded), all sorts of coloring books and drawing tools...it seemed endless the stuff accumulated that we had available to play with while having no idea we were also learning all sorts of essentials with no fuss at all. She didn’t instruct us to study, simply had abundance available that most any normal kid would eventually explore.

jkraemer    |    Sep 21, 2011 11:34 AM

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