Training from the BACK of the Room!

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We learn in context, with others, as we live and work. Recognizing this fact is the first step to crafting effective learning experiences.
Jay Cross

Opening Activities

Any opening activity that does not have one or more of these connection components in it is a waste of learning time. because the opening is the prime time to connect learners:

  1. to each other;
  2. to the topic;
  3. to their own learning goals; and
  4. to the learning outcomes.

Some examples (numbers relate to the list above):

  1. Learners fill out what’s in it for me? sticky notes stating what they want to learn. They stick the notes to a wall chart to review at the end of the training. [3]
  2. Learners do a standing survey, in which they walk around and ask other participants what they already know about the topic. They report the survey results when they return to their table groups. [1, 2]
  3. On index cards, learners do a quick think and write, jotting down at least three facts they already know about the topic. They read their lists to the people seated next to them. [1, 2]
  4. Learners read a wall chart list of the learning outcomes. They pair up, discuss, and agree on which outcome is the most important to them. Each pair then uses a brightly colored marker to circle the outcome they chose. [1, 4]
  5. Learners form standing groups and discuss what it is they want to learn and which of the learning outcomes listed in the handout comes closest to their own learning goals. [1, 3, 4]
  6. Learners fill out a survey before the training, stating what they already know about the topic, what they want to learn from the training, and questions they have that they want answers for. [2, 3]

4 Easy Steps to Really Learn


Warm-Up Definition

A Warm-Up:

  • spark learners’ curiosity, interest, and involvement in training concepts a week or so before the training begins;
  • is a pre-training activity that learners do a week or so before the actual training program begins;
  • is also called pre-exposure;
  • is a way of exposing learners to, and creating interest in, the topic and concepts they will be learning about;
  • creates a common language of topic-related words and phrases that learners will use when attending the training
  • can also be a pre- and post-assessment tool, in that learners compare what they know before the training with what they know after the training is over
  • in effect, is a wake up call to the brain, that is, a way of alerting the brain to get ready to learn.

Warm-Up Effects

By doing one or more Warm-Up activities, learners will:

  • Begin to gather information relevant to the training topic.
  • Add to what they already know about the topic.
  • Correct any beginning misconceptions they have about the topic.
  • List their own experiences and learning goals related to the topic.
  • Familiarize themselves with terms, language, and concepts of the training.
  • Become curious about the topic and motivated to learn more.
  • Teach others in the training what they have learned from the Warm-Up.
  • Assess and compare what they know before and after the training.”

Warm-Up Activities

  1. expert interview
  2. web hunt
  3. scavenger hunt
  4. people and personal
  5. surveys
  6. pop quiz

Fast Pass Activities—short and quick, only lasting a minute or two—to engage learners from the moment they walk into the room.

  1. dot voting
  2. think it, then ink it
  3. post it
  4. turn and talk
  5. take a guess

Start-Up Activities at the beginning of a training involve learners for a longer time—usually last from about five to ten minutes.

  1. standing survey
  2. wall writing
  3. table talk
  4. where do you stand?
  5. card carousel



‘Custom’ as in customize, turn into habit replaces ‘Concrete Practice’ as it is a single word meaning that you actually turn what you have learned and think into concrete practice.


Have trainees:

  1. summarize, evaluate and celebrate what they have learned; and
  2. create concrete action plans for how they want to use the new knowledge the next day.

Sample Questions to Celebrate

  • What is the most important insight you gained from this section?
  • What are one or two changes you can now make to your own work to make it more effective, efficient, and fun?


Training from the BACK of the Room!—65 ways to step aside and let them learn by Sharon Bowman