I can be a very slow learner. To master flip turns in swimming, for example, I needed lots of step-by-step instruction. I had to practice dozens of times, all while getting water up my nose. Again. And again. And again. And even now, I still have to work on integrating it into all parts of my workout.
Learning piano, (inspired by my son’s lessons), I’m somewhat faster. But still, I need to practice the same thing again and again. So perhaps I don’t need instruction as much as practice time. (And at this point, more instruction isn’t in the budget).
All this has me thinking about my own teaching, which covers things like Crystal Reports. Almost all my instruction material assumes people will get concepts and techniques on the first try. While in the back of my mind I knew this wasn’t effective, and people need multiple examples, it didn’t really strike me until now. Because when it comes to software, I can generally get things on the first try. Without any training.
But most people can’t. They need the same kind of repetition I need with piano. (If you need the same kind of help I needed with flip turns, you should probably consider focusing on something other than reporting software.)
How will this realization impact my teaching? I’m going to start by altering some of my presentations. Instead of giving only one example, I’m going to give several – so people can go through things more than once. And further, when I’m asked to train in Crystal or SSRS, I’m going to make sure we adapt those materials too. It’s better to practice the same thing five times and get it, than practice five things once and get nowhere.
Are you a fast learner in some areas but not others? Where do you need step-by-step instruction?