What is training, anyway?
Like many smart, capable, professional people I had some opportunities to teach before I became a “learning professional.” One of my first jobs was working before and after high school as a tutor for a small group of disadvantaged third-graders. I got the job because I had good grades, was dependable, and because my younger sister vouched for me to the sixth-grade teacher who ran the tutoring program.
Learning did not become a focus for me until I took my current job, but I have taught in almost every position along the way. In one of my earliest professional roles – a research secretary at a medical college – I was asked to train the other secretaries on a new computer system. Our manager asked me because I was computer-savvy (being one of the youngest people in the department) and because I could explain things well. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was also trying to find ways for me to grow my skills.
Many years later, I have taught managers and staff people, patients, physicians and people who are part of the community. There’s a saying that those cannot do, teach. But I don’t help people learn because I am not capable of anything else. I believe I was pulled into this role because of a talent for communication and a lifelong love of learning. What I have gained from being in a formal training role is a deeper understanding of the process of learning – its variety from person to person, how it is supported (or hindered) by a facilitator, and the many techniques, theories and approaches to making it successful.
This blog serves as a record of my journey from lucky novice to intentional professional.