Many trainers struggle to know if their trainees are following along during activity time. Here’s how you really find out…
In order to know when people need help, it’s important to have good instincts for reading someone’s body language and recognizing when they need help. Read through the following quick steps on how to do that below.
- Move about a little more when monitoring the class.
- Slowly pace across the back of the classroom rather than just staying towards the center.
- Move up the aisles about halfway, looking back and forth. This gives you a better chance to see when someone gets stuck, makes you a more active presence in the classroom, and makes people more comfortable directly asking you for help.
- Keep your head and eyes moving, sweeping across the room, even as you pace. You don’t want to be spastic, just actively alert. It’s amazing how much more you notice (sometimes across the room) just by continually moving your field of vision.
- Look for subtle requests for help, like someone looking around a bit or half-raising their hand. This usually means they’re stuck or have a question that they don’t want to ask the entire class. When you see a subtle sign like that, quickly (but calmly) make your way towards that person and make yourself available. If they really do have a question/need help, they’ll usually initiate it once you’re nearby.
- Look for other signs of being stuck, such as:
- Someone’s screen looks totally different than everyone else’s. (Though this might be because they are working ahead. Look for trainees that appear agitated. If they do, approach.
- Everyone else is calmly doing something, but one person’s head is repeatedly looking at their screen, then up at the instructor’s screen, then back at their screen, then up at the instructor’s screen, etc. This usually means they’re a step or two behind and trying to catch up. (Of course, they might just be twitchy.)
- Someone is looking at their screen, then at their neighbor’s screen, then back at their own. As above; they’re probably behind and trying to catch up.
- Someone is flipping through pages and looking between them and their screen. This person is usually behind and trying to get caught up by using the book.
- Two neighbors are whispering to each other and pointing at each other’s screens or books. One of them is usually behind or lost.
- Someone gets up and takes an ad hoc break. When they come back, they are likely behind a few steps.
You can help the person out considerably just be putting yourself near them and making yourself available. You might not even need to say anything at first. Read through the following quick steps on how to do that below.
- If you can see that someone is a step or two behind, or just struggling to find something on the screen, consider just leaning in a little and pointing casually to the spot on their that they are looking for. Don’t jab, don’t be imperative, just casually point to the spot on the screen. Maybe whisper something like “I think you’re looking for this” or “this right here?” Then step back and get out of their line of sight to let them solve it themselves. Keep an eye on them, though, and if they’re still stuck you can intervene more.
- Kneel down. It can be very imposing to have a trainer or assistant stand over you and loom. Kneeling down puts you on a level with the trainee, keeps you from drawing too much attention to them, and makes it clear that you are attending to their needs. Plus, more exercise. J
- Whisper, or at least speak softly. Use a soft, calming voice. When you intervene, speak just a shade softer than usual. This makes learners more comfortable during a lecture or exercise because you’re not drawing attention to them. It also sends a cue that they should respond in kind, and not disrupt the rest of the class.
- Ask “what’s up?” or “can I help with something?” when you approach. If you’ve correctly identified that they need a hand, you just gave them the opportunity. If you’re sure that someone is struggling but not sure exactly how, consider just kneeling down next to them and waiting for them to say something. (Don’t be creepy. Just make yourself available.)
- Triage a problem to the best of your ability. If you are stuck, quickly evaluate:
- Will this keep the learner from following along? If so, subtly get the trainers attention and nod toward the learner. Wait for the trainer to acknowledge. If it seems like it will be a few minutes, scan the room for others that need help right now.
- Is this just a question or weird behavior that is a curiosity? If so, make a note of it for later and have the learner get caught up with the rest of the class. Bring it up to the trainer during a break or exercise.
If you want to dive deeply into the strategies, techniques, and tools you need to facilitate classroom activities, this four-hour program focuses on how to facilitate activities so your participants can enjoy themselves and still learn exactly what they need to know, check out our Activity Facilitation Mastery program.