By Andrew Mullaney, Curriculum Developer/Trainer, City University of New York School of Professional Studies
It’s happened many times before. We are cruising along in a training session, delivering content at a good pace, covering what we believe are all of the important points necessary for our participants. Then the training ends and the evaluation results come in. They are less than stellar. We become deflated by these underachieving evaluation results. Our professional internal discussion then becomes something along the lines of: “I thought they were getting it. I thought we were all on the same page.” Or “Next time, I’ll make sure they get it.”
So how does the professional trainer bolster transfer of learning during a training session? How do we make sure “they get it”? From a training delivery standpoint, one way is to apply the age-old technique of mindfulness during a training session.
A goal of the ancient technique of Vipassana meditation, mindfulness is developed during practice by focusing on one’s breath. By slowing down and focusing specifically on the breath, the mind is quieted, and self-observation is deepened. As a result, a person gains a deeper awareness of the reality of things as they truly are, becoming a mindful observer to his or her own thoughts and actions as they occur.
How does this new age practice (or not so new age practice anymore) of mindfulness relate to transfer of learning? Well, when an instructor slows down during delivery and observes the current moment, it brings the proceedings into focus, allowing the instructor to better gauge his or her effectiveness. By keeping an eye mindfully on the current proceedings, we can evaluate whether or not participants understand what is being presented to them at that moment. This calm assessment of things unfolding allows us to assess the current course of delivery, and alter course if need be. This is especially beneficial to those of us tasked with delivering the same training sessions multiple times to multiple audiences.
How to Cultivate Mindfulness as Trainers
A daily meditation practice is a good way to start. But for those of us with not much time for quiet sitting, here are three mindfulness strategies that can easily be deployed during delivery:
When it comes to transfer of learning, most professional trainers rely on the world of evaluations to distinguish results, but there is a way to bolster transfer of learning for participants during training. The key here is cultivating mindfulness in our routine. Approaching any task mindfully takes practice, but developing professional awareness with work-related matters is especially difficult. In the training room, a mindful approach can accomplish a lot. When we slow down and observe the current moment, it brings the proceedings much more into focus, allowing us a window in which to view our own effectiveness. Our participants will benefit by our increased focus and increased attention to their needs. So next time, pause, breathe, and look around. You’ll be thankful you did.
Andrew Mullaney is a curriculum developer and trainer at the City University of New York School of Professional Studies.