#8 Six tips to engage shy & reluctant learners

 

Client Enquiry:

I'm running a Train the Trainer programme this week. What tips can I pass on to my delegates about dealing with shy or disengaged learners?

 

RSVP Design Response

Shy delegates are one thing, disengaged delegates may suggest there is a problem with the content or delivery of the training. So first step is to reflect on why there are disengaged delegates and what you might to differently to ensure they see the relevance of the training, the benefits to them and the value of re-engaging.

However, from a practical point of view, there are a number of things that work well to engage shy or reluctant learners.

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The use of metaphor is a great way to get shy people to talk - they become more comfortable describing a picture and it gives them a stimulus to begin the discussion.

 

From RSVP Design's image series choose something like

Images of Resilience to help focus a small group (2 to 4 people) on a sensitive topic (like what Resilience means to individuals and how their approaches to challenging situations can be developed!)

expresspack - these small sized image cards work well with pairs or small groups, and can be used to help open up conversations that develop from choosing a picture that makes a personal connection

Dialoogle (magnum) - use these larger sized images when working in bigger groups so that more people can see the image chosen (choose the shy people early so that they still have things to say, but not first, so they can follow a confident person!)

 

 Tip #8

Shy delegates are one thing, disengaged delegates may suggest there is a problem with the content or delivery of the training. So first step is to reflect on why there are disengaged delegates and what you might to differently to ensure they see the relevance of the training, the benefits to them and the value of re-engaging.

However, from a practical point of view, there are a number of things that work well to engage shy or reluctant learners.

 

  1. Ensure there is a high percentage of experiential learning in the programme design. Use problem-based learning whenever possible - most learners find it hard not to get sucked into problem-solving!

 

  1. Do not use too much large group discussion and don't ask questions to the whole group. If you do, the more confident contributors will participate while the shy ones sit back. Encourage paired discussion, with rapid reporting back. Ask each member of a pair to report back different learning points or ideas from the discussions. If they are very shy, write these on flip charts or posters on the wall. If you can, mix pairs so the more confident and vocal encourage the others to 'do their share'.

 

  1. Use activities like Post-it exercises, graffiti sheets and mind maps which require everyone to make written contributions (eg everyone gets three sticky notes and must write three separate ideas, or everyone adds an idea to one branch of a mind map)

 

  1. Use peer teaching techniques. Allocate small parts of the curriculum to individuals to research and teach to others. Less confident people can be supported by a peer coach as they prepare their sessions

 

  1. Create lots of opportunities for sharing of personal experiences. Encourage learners to share individual stories and examples in small groups.

 

  1. Use the technique of 'rounds' . Work quickly round a circle of learners, asking each person in turn to complete a sentence, such as..."One thing I have learned this morning is...." or "One thing I remember about the topic x is....". Stick to a single idea and begin the round with the shy learners so that there are still plenty of possible answers available to them.

 

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