Back to School

It’s the back-to-school season.  Photos of kids on their front porch with a sign saying “First Day of X Grade” and maybe a throw back to the previous year’s photo from the same spot.  It’s also back to school for those moving onto the college scene.  In “SEC Country” here in the Midsouth, most of the universities had freshmen reporting and moving into the dorms last week.  In the Big10, freshmen move-in happens this week.  I remember moving my two kids into their dorms (yes, I did cry, but that’s a story for another day).  As I was reminiscing about those days, it occurred to me how much freshmen dorm check-in and successful training programs have in common.  Seriously.  

  • Successful training is all about “Behavioral Change” – Most L&D experts will agree that behavioral change is the foundation of great training.  Sure, there is knowledge transfer – and that is required to support the changed behavior.  But operationally, it is the changed behavior and the corresponding improved business results, that makes the training successful.  When it comes to freshman check-in, you want to believe that you’ve successfully trained your new collegian to behave in a mature fashion.  Sure, you want your child to have fun and enjoy this part of their life.  But, let’s face it – your hope is that the behaviors you’ve trained them on during their time at home… remain intact.
  • Successful training is measured by “Assessments” – Assessments of learning are an important measure of the success of a training course’s knowledge transfer.  Tests, quizzes, job knowledge checks – whatever you call them the end result is the same:  You ask a question and the learner gives an answer which will dictate the level of achievement.  As a parent of a new freshman, you will undoubtedly be assessing things through phone calls, text messages, and emails in addition to monitoring social media and quizzing them whenever they come home to do laundry and eat you out of house and home!  There is a fine line between engaged parenting and helicopter parenting.  Assess the learner’s (aka your child’s) answer to your question and make a note of it for the future.
  • Successful training “Celebrates Learner Success” – Successful training programs offer recognition for completion or certification.  Learners are proud of their new skills because they are reminded of the value these skills bring to the organization and the lives of others.  Recognition and reward for completion are key elements to any successful training program and your new freshmen are no exception.  Praise the stories that tell of appropriate behavior.  Recognize the great mid-term score.  Send a note of encouragement during the longest period away from home of the semester.  Everyone likes to be remembered.

So, it’s back to school season again.  While I don’t miss “car rider line” or “after-school practice” or “finding a parking spot on campus” – I do look back fondly on the time when my own were still at home and “in training” for their own freshman move-ins.           

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