In taking the plunge from teaching to training, one would think the distance would not be that far. After all, they are quite similar. Teachers train the minds of their students. In academia, training is a great skill to have. It incorporates a variety of professional skills and competencies that are invaluable for personal and career development. Still, the leap from teaching to training presented an interesting challenge.
For any substantial growth, either professional or personal, it always important to take challenges head on and engage in new opportunities that help realize potential. This is what I intended to take advantage of in accepting to create my first training session. As a Kids Online (KON) teacher, I am in the unique position of being able to present in-center trainings at the Shanghai Online Training Center (SHOTC). The trainings would be delivered on topics of interests in regards to knowledge areas, interpersonal, and other related topics.
Now I must admit that with all the advantages of training, I was not too keen on doing this new thing. I was tentative for a few reasons. First and foremost, I was a teacher and I taught children. Speaking with children is completely different than adults. There was also the task of selecting a training topic that I needed to be confident in delivering. These two items could be easily surmounted if not for the final inhibitors—fear and doubt. Public speaking terrified me, despite being a teacher and I doubted that whatever I would say would be received. Then, I was reminded that I moved halfway across the world by myself; so, I could speak to a room of my peers for an hour. It was decided.
My first training session was delivered in September 2018 on project leading. This topic was perfect for KON with our number project focuses and I could also deliver this session with a level certainty being an MBA Project Management student. SHOTC has a detailed process for organizing training sessions that actually incorporates the five project management processes of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. As a near obsessive planner, a lot of time was spent in the planning process.
For this session, I was thrilled to team up with fellow teacher at the time, Justin Haworth. It is always nice to have partner and Justin is great person to work with. When we started, we initially struggled with condensing the material to give the meat of what project leading is and how to relate it. Our major task was combining theory and practice. After we put pen to paper, we started this wonderful play of ideas that meshed well together. We focused on the main concepts for discussion and application through a case study on the Titanic.
After a great amount of time and planning, training day came. The training took place over two days, with one day taken by either of us. We tailored each day's presentation to our personal style, so the only similarities were the information given. On my day, I think I might have had three cups of coffee before the starting time. Interestingly, coffee settles my nerves, so when the time came, I had it on the podium as an unnecessary crutch. I barely even used my notes that intricately detailed flow, transition phases, word-for-word instructions, and activities.
Did the session go exactly according to plan? No. Plans usually don't. The key is not to let them see you sweat. While executing the session, different stages had to be adapted, but the training session went the way it was intended. There were thoughtful questions, discussion, and even post-training follow-up. My manager, Katie Cai who also attended and monitored this session, gave insightful back.
After it was all said in done, it surprisingly went better than I thought it would—and I didn't pass out, so that was good in my book. It was wonderful to see people walk away from the session with key takeaways. One of the most important aspects of project leading that relates to training and teaching is lesson learned. Now that I had delivered the session, the work was only just beginning. I realized how connected training and teaching are.
Throughout preparing and conducting the training session, I had to rely on my skills as a teacher, refine others and break out new ones. Continuing to proactively propel my growth in this way could only do well for the future.
Do I still have reservations about training? Yes; but I am no longer hesitant to take on another one should the opportunity arise and am more open to facing tasks that put me outside of my comfort zone.