When it comes to adult learning, beyond tactic and strategy, a large part of the lesson lies in the teacher themselves.
As humans, learning sticks most successfully when we both trust and respect our teachers and feel trusted and respected by them. The teachers who embody this principle, often follow very common leadership practices.
1. Leaders Inspire Learning through Encouragement and Positivity
In a training environment, positivity and encouragement can go a long way. Learning can often stretch boundaries and comfort zones. Being taught by a leader who lifts up and reassures his students or trainees (vs. discourages or demeans) creates a safe space for all people to be vulnerable, listen, and be taught. A leader is always aware of his or her tone of voice and careful to not sound condescending. Deb Peterson of ThoughtCo.com writes:
“Always remember that your students are adults. Speaking to them in the tone of voice you might use with a child is offensive, and the damage can be very difficult to overcome. Genuine encouragement from one person to another, regardless of age, is a wonderful point of human interaction.”
2. Respect Promotes Learning
Jill Berkowics and Ann Myers, authors of The STEM Shift, wrote about The Role of Respect in Leadership, saying:
“Respect is an attitude expressed in words and behaviors. It is a way of life. It is noticeable when it is absent. It is also noticeable when it is given to some and not to others.”
When you are training a group of team members, it’s vitally important that you are respected amongst the group. If you don’t treat clients with care and concern, if you don’t speak kindly to others, if you don’t handle conflict with grace and humility, how can you teach others to do so? If your team doesn’t respect you for “walking the talk”, they won’t be receptive to your message.
3. Human Connection Fosters Learning
Adults learn best from people they enjoy being around. Listening and cognitive skills increase and the ability to retain information increases, too. According to Amanda Rollins at ELearningIndustry.com,
“…human interaction within learning fosters better motivation, stronger retention and comprehension, and above all, it creates a human connection – a key cognitive function which is vital to learning…the power of human interaction goes far beyond test scores: human interaction is key to learn engagement.”