4 tips for good facilitation I learned from riding a bike

On May 16, 2010, in How We Learn, by Nicole Lantz

I watched my little guy learn how to ride a bike today. Note that I didn’t say that I taught my son how to ride a bike today. I suppose I can claim I facilitated it, and that’s simply the truth of teaching no matter what the subject.

1. Always define your learning outcomes first. Easy. Outcome = the little fella can ride his bike on his own. But it wasn’t true. There were other skills, attitudes, and knowledge on my agenda. I won’t even begin to list the skills that even me (the SME) hadn’t articulated. The thing is, I realized in the middle of it that the attitudes were more important. I wanted him to want to ride the bike. I wanted him to learn without getting frustrated or upset. I wanted him to persevere until he could do it. Once I realized that, I completely changed my approach.

2. You need more than subject matter expertise. It should have been easy. After all, I know how to ride a bike (one could say I have subject matter expertise). Apparently, even though I know something really well, it doesn’t mean I should just walk out the door and go teach it without a thought. If you want people to actually take something valuable away with them (and keep coming back for more), the learning process is just as important as the content.

3. Provide a safe environment for learning. No matter what the subject, you have to get past the fear of failure. Of course we’ve been socially programmed to fear some content (like math) more than others, so then it’s even more important. How do you do this? For my little guy, it meant moving from crushed stone and grass to a recycled tire playground surface. In a classroom, this means social safety too.

4. Enthusiasm is only so contagious. You need creative instructional strategies. Just because you are crazy about {fill in your passion here}, doesn’t mean your students will be. So you’d think learning to ride a bike would be motivation enough for a kid – right? Wrong. He lost interest after a few tries. He wasn’t mad or upset, just not interested anymore. He went off to climb on the playground or run around. He got bored with it. So, I had to come up with a way to get his attention again. A new instructional strategy. Role play: Big bad wolf. I became the little pig and he chased me on his bike – if he made it across to my “house” he got to eat my piggie tails, ears, you get the drift… All of a sudden he was back on the bike.

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1 Response » to “4 tips for good facilitation I learned from riding a bike”

  1. [...] Basically, consider many facets of success when you define your outcomes and choose wisely (See 4 tips for good facilitation I learned from riding a bike). Also, remember that as an educator your students may not define success the same way you do. Talk [...]

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