Day 5 of Train the Trainer, Amman
I woke up feeling much better and quite hungry. I dropped off my few laundry items to be cleaned and had a good breakfast.
Then everything fell apart.
The room must have been used for a function, because there were high tables, an arm chair (!), my agenda map was missing, all the flip charts were missing (including the sign-up sheets for the showcase presentations, and another wand and more Koosh balls were gone. We were supposed to start at 8 and the IT person didn’t show until 8:01- then we couldn’t get my computer to communicate with the LCD, the right screen had to be lowered, etc.- I’m sure you’re getting the picture.
Luckily, only a few participants came on time, with the rest straggling in by or just after 8:30 (which had been our start time for the other training days). In the midst of trying to get all of the materials on the tables and set up my laptop and IPod player, hotel staff brought in a pile of flip chart (not the easels). I started to go through them and just told them to throw them away (since they related to lesson design, not learning activity design).
Then I went around sticking back up all the butterfly kites I brought to liven the room. They have been moved so often, and the poster putty lost and replaced with masking tape, that there is a continual fluttering sound as they waft to the ground. I’ve probably put them back up at least twenty times.
About an hour into the session I realized that my wonderful agenda map (that covered most of the wall) was missing. Staff later suggested that the map had been folded up at the bottom of the flip charts, so it had been thrown away. Boy, that was a lesson learned.
The showcase presentations were wonderful- dynamic, interactive, humorous, and well-designed. I could tell everything but the latter, since all but two were in Arabic.
We closed off Day Three content with the showcase presentations and began with Day Four, with a focus on designing learning activities.
I used a bingo game in small groups to check their retention. They are VERY competitive!! And when they win they’re pretty obnoxious. ☺ Instead of 20 minutes, this took over an hour. Keep in mind that there was a need to translate everything during the game.
We assessed a focus question, questionnaire and case study- participating in them, assessing the design rationale, and creating their own as a large group. It was fascinating when we created the questionnaire. They decided it should be about Interest-Based Negotiation and that was fine. Then they proposed eight statements that were subjective and controversial, such as: “Negotiation is mandatory in our lives,” and “The 7 Element Tool is the most important tool for negotiation.” I realized that I had to clarify that the questionnaire needed to focus on the objective aspects of the topic at hand- and they were then able to propose questions along that line.
Since we began at 8, we had lunch at 2. When we returned our next focus was games. I had them split into groups to play a relay game. On the flipcharts, I had written vertically: LEARNING ACTIVITIES and they were tasked with completing each letter with a word or phrase related to training. There was fierce competition and lots of arguing over the other group’s list. I gave them all back scratchers and told them they were all winners.
On a side note, the issue of cell phone use- both in the classroom as well as walking outside making calls- continued unabated. I spoke to them twice, then Majd told them later in Arabic. I think it partially sank in.
Using games in training is a very novel idea, so I decided to have each of the four small groups create a game for the other groups to play. They came up with fantastic games in 20 minutes:
To show how important it is that everyone participate and cooperate, they had one group count all of the table toys and one group count all the drinking glasses- then both groups gave their counts to the third group to report the final counts as if they were part of a weather report. Very creative!
The next group (of Arabic speakers) wrote each learning level on its own colorful index card, spacing them out- one set each on two different flip charts. They split the group in half and each group was given a glass with active verbs written on pieces of paper. The groups competed against each other to place the correct verbs under each learning level- in 3 minutes!
The third group gave each table pieces of paper with letters on them and told them to create a sentence using all of the letters, then tape it up on a flipchart. The sentences turned out to be three of the six steps I taught them for designing a lesson plan. They were also given a short time, but I didn’t catch what it was.
The last group gave each table a handmade envelope with 14 tiny pieces that they had to make into squares. (It was almost exactly the same as Broken Squares!) Some groups sat on the floor, others stood, some sat at their tables. The group used it as a team building activity.
I’ll admit right now that I plan to use the active verbs and the letter puzzle activities in future train the trainer programs!! ☺
Our next focus was on role play. Half of the group (skeptics) prepared reasons for using participatory learning activities and the other half (change agents) prepared reasons against using participatory learning activities. I placed the change agents in a circle, facing outward. The skeptics formed a circle around them, each facing a change agent. They argued their cases for about a minute, then the skeptics moved clockwise to argue with the next person. They changed three times- then I had them switch roles and repeat the process three times.
When they reconvened in their two groups at the tables, they had to come up with the top two most persuasive statements in favor of using participatory learning activities- which they did.
We spent some time discussing their assignment for tomorrow, which is to design a 10-minute participatory learning activity they have never used before and facilitate it (while videotaped). We’ll split the group into two groups of 8 or 9 (food poisoning affected some more than others, so we’re not sure who’ll be there). Before they left at 6 pm, they had to tell me what type of activity they planned to use. It sounds like there are going to be a lot of games.
I asked Majd to check if anything would be in the room tonight and the answer was “no,” which was a relief. I decided to take all table toys off the table and discovered one more wand and four more Koosh balls gone (you would think I had learned my lesson the previous two days, but I’m too trusting). I looked through my two huge suitcases, pulling everything we need for tomorrow into one and putting the rest into the other. While I was doing that, a manager came in and told me we were NOT in the room tomorrow, but in the ballroom next door. It was almost 7 pm and I was dead on my feet. He took pity on me and eventually returned to say that they had moved the meeting that would have been in “our” room. GOOD GRIEF!!!
I am finally back in my room. I called down to the front desk about my laundry and they told me it would be brought right up. That was an hour ago. I’ll deal with that after I finish my letter.
I had mentioned in my Day Three missive that Majd told me some fascinating things about religion and the Arab culture. She termed it “social (or fundamental) attribution error.”
Oops, when I tried to Google social attribution error, I couldn’t get on the internet. I’ve called the front desk again about my laundry and now about the password. Both are supposed to be coming right up. Hmmm..
Majd first mentioned it as an explanation (not a justification) of the defaced and/or missing table top toys. They look at the materials, decide they must not cost very much, so it doesn’t matter what they do. In the culture, either they justify their actions on the basis of religion or on their culture. She said that Arabs are highly emotional- they either love you or they don’t and there isn’t much you can do about it. (This part related to our discussion that there is one person who is simply not happy with anything any day- and makes it very clear on his/her evaluation. Majd explained that it really had nothing to do with me).
On a side note, I asked her if women smoke, because almost all of the men do (walking past them outside the training room door is a treat). She said that smoking is one of the only ways for women to get rid of their stress.
Okay, laundry received and new password in hand.
Mark Sherman in Psychology Today writes:
In other words: When we see someone doing something, we tend to think it relates to their personality rather than the situation the person might be in.
For example, if someone cuts in front of you in line, your immediate reaction is, “This person is a complete jerk!” But in reality, maybe he never cuts into lines and is doing it this time only because he is about to miss his plane, the one he’s taking to be with his great aunt, who is on the verge of death.
Interestingly, social psychologists have found that we make the fundamental attribution error (or FAE, as I have never heard it called) about other people but rarely ourselves. When we do things, we always have a good reason. It’s other people we see as defective. (FAE or not, other people are defective. If everyone was more like me, this world would be a much better place!)
A classic example is the person who doesn’t return your call. You could go the usual route and think, “He is an inconsiderate slob and my parents were right years ago when they said I should have dropped him as a friend.” But the fundamental attribution error would remind you that there might very well be other reasons why this person hasn’t called you back. Maybe he is going through major issues in his life. Maybe he is traveling for work. Maybe he honestly forgot. (Maybe before you get all hot and bothered, you should check the obituaries, though if you’re really the resentful sort, even death may not be enough to mollify you.)
Closely related to the FAE is the tendency we all have to take things too personally. Maybe you could call this the fundamental selfishness error, or the “all about me” effect. This describes the everyday experience of encountering people who don’t treat you just right, as the royalty you implicitly believe you are. The feeling we have of being disrespected is so common that we’ve shortened the word to “dissed.” Someone says something that you feel belittles you, or they ignore you, or talk about food when you want to talk about sports. You’ve been dissed! Don’t they know who you are?
However, if we all take a step back to recognize and accept the fundamental attribution error, we will feel dissed far less often. Most people are good and decent, subject to the same difficulties in life as you are. When they ignore us, or don’t say thank you when we hold a door open for them, or step on our feet and don’t apologize, or make nasty comments about our mothers, we must remember that they are simply fellow sufferers.
I play different music at breaks. When Mohammad heard Benny Goodman, he said that this type of jazz is all the rage in Japan.
I’ve never brought 4 shoes to training and it has made a huge difference. I don’t have to sit with my feet up any more after a long day (and believe me, today was a very long day!)
I had mentioned that the men are affectionate with each other. They also kiss each other on the cheek. It is very sweet.
The Arabic-speaking men did a terrific job, both with their individual showcase presentations and with the game they created and facilitated. I’m very impressed.
I looked ridiculous today. I mentioned that I’d taken advantage of the small sewing kit in the room and made the neckline of my dress much more conservative. What I didn’t mention is that this entailed taking up an inch at my shoulder at either side. It ended up looking as if I had small wings. I wore a wrap that covered it up nicely, but in running around trying to handle everything before the session began, I was a sweaty mess. So I took off the wrap. It wasn’t until the afternoon, when I went to the rest room, that I saw how I looked. Sigh…
I take photos of the flip chart working and the groups when they are working together, but the participants love selfies and group shots. I’ve actually found this to be true in every other country I’ve trained in recently (Nigeria, Zambia, Kenya, and U.A.E.) I definitely stand out in any photo with my blonde hair- and my hot pink dress today!
I spoke with Majd again about the reasons for having all staff, including non-trainers, participate in this session. She is the director of training and wants everyone to know what good training looks like so they can make recommendations if they see something done poorly.
Okay, it’s 8:30 pm and I need to have some dinner. The menu selections are extremely limited and I am very tired (and very cautious) about them. I wish I had packed a jar of peanut butter to spread on an apple I take from lunch. Oh well.