When I walk into a classroom, my ultimate goal is to teach my trainees how to become craft professionals. But most of all, I want the trainees to know how to become respectful and productive employees.
The first day of my class, I verbally commit to my trainees that I will give them 110% and I request of them a commitment of 100% in return. Seventy-eight percent of the students who have completed electrical training under my tutelage are currently employed. I strongly contribute this success to employability skills. Good employability skills will increase the chances of gaining employment and employment retention.
On the first day of class and throughout the course session, I make it very clear, you can enter the industry with a lot of natural ability, talent and skill training, But, it is the employability soft skills that will give you long lasting employment on the job.
My top ten classroom practices to ensure classroom attendance, participation and ultimately, employment retention:
1. Communicate your classroom rules and expectations on the first day of class. Post your rules in the classroom where they are easily visible and accessible. The instructor must enforce these rules consistently.
2. Give the trainees a pre-test of the entire course of study to determine their existing level of knowledge. This establishes a benchmark that can be used to document achievement.
3. To enhance employability skills:
The instructor must perform an evaluation on each trainee. The evaluation should be structured to promote behaviors such as attendance, positive class behavior, positive attitude, class participation and leadership. This will improve the trainee’s employability skills.
Each of the trainees must perform a self-evaluation. The trainee self-evaluation will depict how the trainee perceives himself or herself. The instructor’s evaluation of the trainee will depict how the instructor perceives the trainee.
The trainee and instructor evaluations should be in written form and formatted with the same behavior objectives. The instructor should meet one-on-one periodically with each trainee to compare his or her evaluation with the trainee’s written self-evaluation.
The instructor and trainee should discuss each objective listed on the evaluation. The trainee should be made aware of any discrepancies between both evaluations. These discrepancies should be discussed to see if there are any opportunities for improvement. The instructor should praise positive behavior and give constructive criticism for behavior that is not acceptable. Constructive criticism must be accompanied by suggestions to improve any undesirable behaviors.
4. Inform the trainees of your top five learning goals. These goals can be hands-on task demonstrations or need-to-know knowledge or skills specific to their craft. These learning goals should be what you expect the trainees “to know”, not remember by the end of each learning module or course level. The following day randomly pick trainees to come to the front of the class to demonstrate their knowledge or skill of one or more of the top five learning goals. This should be repeated twice weekly throughout the duration of the training session.
The random selection of trainees encourages them to stay focused and alert in anticipation that they will be called on next to participate. Soon you will experience the trainees increase in the following: study habits, volunteering to demonstrate their knowledge and skills of the subject matter, boost in morale, participation, and enhancement of written, verbal and presentation skills.
5. While lecturing the subject matter of the day, inform the trainees of the need-to-know topics that will be discussed in the next day’s training module. This will have the trainees curious and anxious to return back to class the following day. This (soap opera technique) yields an increase in attendance.
6. Keep the trainees involved by periodically soliciting their feedback. This promotes trust and high self-esteem. This will also let your trainees know you value their opinions.
7. Where possible, implement virtual reality training. Virtual reality will give the trainees a more realistic approach to training than reading, hearing a lecture or watching a PowerPoint presentation. This will help to keep the trainees engaged.
8. Celebrate after each completed module, for example: Core, Level I, Level II, etc.
9. On the last week of training, give the trainees a post-test to monitor the effectiveness of the training you provided.
10. You must build character and responsibility traits within the trainee. My most important practice is to lead by example. The trainees will remember you (the instructor) for the passion you have for what you do. This practice will ensure the trainees will be well equipped with skillsets and productive work habits. These skillsets and productive work habits will ensure lasting employment in the career path he or she chooses.
“Last but not least,” demonstrate you care for the trainees’ personal well-being equally as you do the trainees career choices and goals.