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Tom came to teaching with one goal in mind – to be an inspiration. He continues this mission by providing workshops for students and teachers in all aspects of learning to learn.


Think it worked

It did...


When is a lesson not a lesson?

Tom Barwood

For the last seventeen years I have been delivering training to staff and pupils in schools. To date it has been very successful. I seem to have earned enough to keep paying the mortgage and am regularly asked back to a variety of places at least!

Recently however I was asked to do some training for a company in the private sector. The first two workshops were delivered to relatively junior staff and so I treated them much as I would NQTs (Newly Qualified Teachers) and it seemed to work. Encouragingly I was then asked if I would do some work with the senior management team. 

Strangely this seemed to send me into a bit of a tailspin as I worried about 'getting it right'. Then I reflected on my years of presenting in schools and the conclusion I came to - which is that all people are roughly similar in that they are motivated - or not by most of the same things.

What people do not enjoy in presentations 

1) Sitting still too long

2) Being told too much 'stuff' 

3) Reading lots of text on a screen (whether that be PP or the old OHTs!)

4) Having lots of text read to them from a screen (especially when half of it is kept hidden or keeps flying in from the side....)

5) Not being able to interact, talk, fiddle or get involved

6) Feeling as if you have to be serious

By contrast I think what people do enjoy in a presentation are most of the things which make a good lesson - especially at primary level!

1) Having an intriguing title especially if it is released before the date and gets everyone wondering. (I am still very delighted that one of my ex students who became a History teacher created a sixth form course on Neo Colonialism entitled 'Why don't the Chinese play cricket?'. Atta boy)

2) Lots of props and resources (especially ones you can fiddle with)

3) Plenty of activities which everyone can get stuck into straight away

4) A clear lesson objective which delegates/pupils are guided towards through a series of 'cognitive conflict' type activities

5) A real chance to interact, play, fiddle, sort, move or whatever it takes

6) The opportunity to consolidate the lessons/learning in something they can take away

7) A minimum of input from the trainer / teacher except where necessary (the guide from the side not the sage on the stage...)

8) Arresting images and a variety of media

9) Gentle humour and a light approach

10) Structured and directed questions

This list is by no means exhaustive and I am sure is worthy of many volumes of work but sometimes I think it can be really worthwhile to distill some of the important points from an experience especially when it is something which appears to be in stark contrast to your 'everyday' job. 

This presentation was entitled 'Crouching Tiger:Hidden Leader'.

There were no Shaolin monks in attendance but my next public gig is entitled 'From Worrier to Warrior' so I think there must be a martial arts thing going on somewhere.

 I enjoy creating these titles and love presenting the courses associated with them. As I often tell students in schools 'I get to teach my favourite lesson of the week, every day of the week' so maybe it is also important that you as the teacher/trainer really are enthusiastic about what you are presenting?