Erasmus+ Training Course ACT NON FORMAL, 16 – 24th March 2017,  St. Andreasberg, Germany
June 1, 2017
Guerrilla youthwork – Template for managing budget and administration on Erasmus+ youth projects
September 18, 2017

Train the trainers – Its up to me 4

IT’S UP TO ME, IT’S UP TO YOU, IT’S UP TO US

Day I: IT´S UP TO ME

Wilderness, no internet, interculturality, learning processes, transformation, love, fun, joy, hard-working…Hmm…sounds like…

Yes, you are right: Training Course, Train the Trainers, “It´s up to me 4”! Internally, we like to call it “Training Plus”. It has become traditional – what is also reflected in the number of applications we received this time: more than 300!  Only 36 were selected to board on the ship!

 

The trainers had already landed several days ago to make sure every part of the informal-education ship is ready for the journey, but they warned the participants: how far they will get, depends solely on themselves: how far they push their limits, how passionate they are, how much they allow to fail and start all over again!

And these are just some of the things, just some of the principles the participants of this long-waited project are going to experience in the next days!

For the beginning, just some theory, just some words serving as compass through the ocean of the knowledge and skills, and dividing into teams – team spirit is what will guide us through the wonderful process awaiting for us in the next days – together we are stronger to cope with all sharks (challenges) on our way! 😊

Braunlage is where this TTT was held: beautiful surrounding, birds waking us up and, for the best interaction – no internet!

Day II: Put down your participants’ hats and put on the hat of the trainer!

For the morning energy, not only delicious breakfast and hot coffees took care, we also did several more team-building games and energizers.

Thus, teams were more than ready to get involved in a very demanding workshop: world café! Sounds like just chatting, enjoying drinks and gossiping. However, it was far away from fun (needless to say, a lot of work brings a lot of fun, right?). People had a task to go through all procedures of creating a workshop: beginning, middle and conclusions.

One of the trainers, Amalia, explained us in a very detail how to prepare for a workshop (e.g. how to concentrate and connect with our inner self), how to make an introduction (good trainer never starts with apologies!!), how to react quickly during the workshop (if you see participants are bored, find the way to entertain them!), and how to make an end (very important: always ask how participants feel!).

Amalia at her spiritual performance: “It is not me who dances, something dances in me!”

After the explanations, participants created 4 different workshops, moving all the time from one table to another, adjusting to the work of previous youth workers and developing the workshop with new ideas and inputs. At the end, four great workshops were presented and hopefully they will be implemented in reality!

Working in a group-chaos continued in the migrant-topic workshop of Maja, when new groups were created, with the task of writing down and presenting main problems, their routes and solutions. Let’s empower others, let’s make them aware of their rights, let’s create employment fairs, let’s make workshop for kids of different cultures – and through many other actions – that is how youth workers and trainers can support integration and inclusion of disadvantaged!

“Put down your participants’ hats and put on the hat of the trainer!”, shouted Darko, another trainer of the project who asked everyone to openly say how the trainers performed by this moment! If I were you, I would have: used more writing methods, spoken less of the theory, shortened the discussion, organized the workshop outside instead…These were just some of the suggestions, showing how participants of the TTT learn HERE and NOW and how they are actively involved in the CREATION of this training – it’s up to them!

 

Day III: Sharp in arguments, quick in responses, but respectful and supportive towards the other side!

There are many abilities that should be characteristics of every Trainer (with the capital T!).

Maybe one of the greatest is the speaking one! Nedzad, who is well-experienced business-oriented trainer, presented us some of the greatest “secrets” of a good public speech, that he uses in his everyday dealing with partners.

Nedzad gave us many useful tips from his corporative experience, especially when it comes to presentations and public speech

Needless to mention, the most important is WHAT we say, but not less valuable is HOW we do it! Participants learned about the ATTITUDE – how a speaker should stand, where his/hers hands should be, what body language is (in)appropriate etc. BEHAVIOUR – how a trainer should communicate verbally and non-verbally with the audience, when and how to use jokes, how to move on the stage and keep the attention etc. and the PRESENTATION itself – which methods are the best, what we should never use as a part of our visual assistance, how to structure the ideas and be as concrete as possible!

After working into groups on our own speeches, the shiest of us dared to jump out of the comfort zone and prove everyone that they are here with the reason – to push their border and to (learn how) efficiently deal with stress and the lack of time! We heard great speeches about opening a pet-friendly restaurant, why mothers should quit Facebook and how we should freely express our sexuality!

Words, words, words hurt? Not in the debate which was the continuation of the speech-session. Sharp in arguments, quick in responses, but respectful and supportive towards the “other side” – that is how participants debated on the topics of “EU – open towards refugees?” and “Terrorism as the political tool?” – not only to become more inspired with the actual and important topics, but also to improve the ability to respond quickly, respectfully and meaningfully.

 

Day IV: Trainer is nothing but a human being: sensitive, vulnerable and emotional

After being fired by words – what else to do, but to relax and feel the power of silence! Participants left the house into groups and each group had a task to do whatever they want – silently!

“…and If you want to cry, I am here to dry your eyes…”, Jim´s sessions helped us to discover and develop our emotional side

It was incredible to see how this “exercise” actually helped us to reconnect with ourselves and to pay more attention on our relation with others. We felt a boost of creativity, discovering the nature around us, our movements, sounds of the background… Upon arrival back to the hose, Jim took us to the emotional journey – to help us connect with our own emotions and the emotions of others. We laid on the ground, closed our eyes and experienced different feelings we were asked by Jim – many of us cried, some stayed strong, but we all got the main message – all is OK, and the Trainer is nothing but a human being: sensitive, vulnerable and emotional – and it is OK to share this part of us to others without fear and with the knowledge that being open will only additionally connect us with participants of our workshops!

Day V: THE MESSAGES AND THE POWER OF BODY AND MIND

Imagine you are leading a workshop with bunch of participants and, of course, nobody has the same body movement. Ones are calm with peaceful eyes, another are tossing and turning all the time, third are shaking their legs, hands of fourth are crossed, fifth’s fists are stiff. Shall I pay attention to those things?

Of course I should! Great Trainer is a multitasker and one of his tasks is to keep the participants “on eye”, meaning that he/she should always observe the body language of people in the workshop’s room, and not only that! The Trainer should ACT accordingly!

If I estimate the participants are bored (yawning, staring through window, eating fingers😊) I make some jokes or change the tone of my voice!

Power-pose of Nil, making it sure everybody listens and trusts him!

If people are impatient (they are playing an invisible drum with their legs), I ask them for their opinion or do a calming energizer!

If they by any chance express some unpleasant inner happening (sorrow, anger, frustration), and they usually show it by crossed hands, I ask WHO IN THIS ROOM HAS… Expected results: free hands which positively influence the participant!

This all was explained by Amalia, who invited us to participate in dancing-workshop to identify ourselves with one or more elements and to combine them balanced in our work:

EARTH = stability, practicality, orientation, results, tangibility, productivity, basicness, details, step-by-step, hard-work, order, frames, beauty, calmness…

WATER = feelings, deepness, compassion, intuition, sensitiveness, support, investigation, transformation, flow, stress, team-work…

FIRE = spirituality, passion, explosiveness, warmth, burning-out, readiness, fighting, liveness, attractiveness, originality, optimism, individuality…

AIR = intellect, freedom, improvisation, quickness, wittiness, balance, compromise, relaxation, playfulness, revolution, unusual…

It is very important for the Trainer to be in emotional balance – that is why Amalia’s body-language session was complemented by Jim’s session on emotional defence. Working in pairs, participants went through three crucial steps towards resolving emotional problems:

  1. Discovering how I feel
  2. Figuring out how the other side feels
  3. Finding out one sentence I would like to say to the other side that would bring us in the state of emotional peace

Does it work? Yes: GREAT!

No: DO IT AGAIN until it works!

What the hell are we doing here, some might wondered! It’s time for real problem-solving!

Nedzad gave us the task to work on a very specific task: recovering an NGO whose alumni is not motivated to work anymore! We worked in groups and, although the task sounded simple, we came to many different solutions!

Aleksandar, Mei-Ling and Ioanna presenting their environment protection project

Some, indeed, were easy and we all came to them: let’s meet the old members, let’s create strategies, let’s do some local activities and promote them on social media etc.

But how about cooperating with different stakeholders? Should we cooperate only with other NGOs and the most famous funding organizations, or is it wise to spread the scope of our cooperation to local institutions, state authorities or even political parties? In any case, now we are more sure about what to do in case our organization faces difficulties!

Day VI: Trainer is a youth worker!

Working in a dynamic and friendly team means a lot of fun, but at the same time situations can get challenging and the team needs to react following sometimes rules and very often…the rule of the mess!

Within the questions-answers, human-library and crisis-management workshops, trainers were happy to share the most interesting and the most difficult cases they faced in their work.

Darko sharing his over-150-trainings experience and situations which made him almost quit his profession in the past!

What to do if some participants get terrified by a tiny-mouse that suddenly appears at the project, where to find potatoes and tomato-sauce in the middle of the Sunday night in the middle of nowhere, what if participants complain about food or accommodation… From these situations which only sound funny, to the occasion in which a participant without a grounded reason leaves the project at 2 a.m. and wants to walk back home in another country – trainers suggested us all possible (and impossible!) creative solutions, i.e. what to do in highly stressful situations! The only conclusion here is: Trainer is NOT just a person who comes for a project, makes several workshops and goes – Trainer IS much more than that – someone who takes care of the participants, who possesses great management skills and is able of great improvisation in crisis situations! In other words, trainer has to be a youth worker at the same time!

More and more trainers see the possibility to grow professionally and personally through the Erasmus Plus projects. We had around one hour to work in teams on some basic question from Erasmus (KA1) application form, such as: project description, participants’ profile, outcomes, dissemination activities and the agenda. We managed to create 8 great ideas with contents that we will put into the application and hopefully apply! The most inspiring ideas were found in topics of refugees integration, social entrepreneurship, environment protection, emotional intelligence, IT skills etc. National agencies, prepare to evaluate our efforts! 😊

Day VII: Get ready to accept critiques as constructive and for the good of our future work!

At the beginning of the projects, we were given a very tricky task: to create a workshop in teams that we built in less than 30 minutes! Not only the lack of time (due to the intensive agenda!), challenges that we faces on this task were numerous: to make sure that we act as the team (small tip: if you cannot make it, fake it!), to crash the task into small pieces and to make sure that each piece fits to the capability and preferences of each of us, to be as creative and innovative as possible (not to repeat well-known workshops), to deliver a useful content in 45 minutes (+/- 30 seconds!) etc!

To add on this pressure, trainers of the project took the role of the harsh “jury” with the task to give comments both to the team as the whole and to each of us individually! Thus, another task was to get rid of vanity and get ready to accept critiques as constructive and for the good of our future work!

Indeed, those who were the first one to present faced the most of these challenges! The further the day went, the higher was the quality of the delivered workshops! Only at the end of the presentations session we realized how much effort it actually takes to prepare an impressive workshop! Every single detail, every small wrong step can affect the mood of the participants in workshop, the content and finally the outcomes we wanted to achieve!

During the workshop, a lot of different emotions: seriousness, laugh, talkativeness…40 people – 40 characters, challenge is to act as one!

From the bunch of energizers and workshops, here are two models that (among others) were assessed as good models for future workshops that we as trainers plan to deliver:

  1. Creative improvisation: this workshop is excellent for the team-building, but is also easily applicable for the discussion on different topics. Several groups work in different rooms; one participant is an expert on certain topic (in our case, to make the workshop funnier, we chose the following topics: seasonal depression of pandas, landing elephants with parachutes and sacred sexuality of swimming pigs), others are journalists, asking for important information about the topic. After 5 minutes, they are given two methods (poetry, singing, theatre, pantomime, rhythm, dancing…) they have to use to prepare a presentation of the topic they were given. Groups then come together, and present one by one. Others have to guess what the topic of the expert was!
  2. Limiting societies: this workshop is ideal for topics such as discrimination, integration and empowerment. Participants are given roles that they are not allowed to share with others. Everyone goes to the one side of the room and stays on the same line. Trainer reads 15 different questions, and participants make a step forward for each question when the answer is YES. After the questions, participants have different positions (some went further than others) and one by one they read the roles they were given, explaining why they believe they made for example 5 steps, and not 10 steps. This exercise reveals how certain groups are limited in their opportunities in certain societies, and also that in many cases it is up to us to break these limitations with our courageous actions. After this, participants stay in a circle, present themselves and their position in society they live in and reflect upon the exercise.

After the hard-working week, it is finally time to relax, to dance, to talk with those that we wanted, but we did not have enough time, to laugh and cry…and finally to dream, but not to stay dreamy!

 

Day VIII: IT`S UP TO US!

This TTT gave us useful information, courage, power and knowledge. What we are going to do with this great energy – it is up to US!

It is up to me improve my skills as trainer – to improve my body language and public speech skills, to use more creative methods and tools, to make sure my workshops are innovative and interesting, to deliver a high quality content and to inspire and encourage others.

But, it is UP TO US to change the world! Our role as a trainer should not be limited purely to the workshops we make! We have to gather our energies and make sure that they are channelized in the right directions!

We want the world of peace, equal opportunities and happiness – let’s stay connected and let´s create projects to make our dreams come true – it´s up to me, it´s up to you – it´s up to us!

 

Some moments do not need comments!