Connecting Learning to Performance

Effective Training in Four Easy Steps


“Those who can do . . .those who can’t teach.” How many times have I hear that one? Never!

Teaching seems easy, until you have 40 students looking to you for “the information” that they want and need. Twenty-five years of teaching, and twenty years of teaching teachers,  has taught me that there are easier choices in life.   But few more rewarding!

Martial artist, soldier, ironworkers, police officers and other professionals enter the teaching/training field because someone thought enough of their previous experience to give them a chance.   Teachers/trainers stay in the professions because others value their information. The teachers/trainers that you personally remember in life valued the profession enough to not only train in their subject matter content area, but also in the delivery of the information.

The teaching methodology shown here today is based on the 4MAT system. This teaching system is well research and accommodates all learners.   The theoretical underpinning are solid, the method is simple.   What more can a teacher/trainer desire in a teaching methodology?

In this methodology, we “move around the clock” beginning at 12 o’clock:


It never fails a student interrupts my happy thoughts and ask, Why do I need to learn this?   The question that they are really wanting to ask: Why did you waste a valuable portion of my life teaching me this #)@&%)& stuff when I’m never going to encounter it outside of your made-up world.   Ah, the joys of teaching. Why fight it?

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First, and always, answer this basic question of yourself: Why am I teaching this to my student? The best strategy I have found to answering this question is to act as a motivator/witness/storyteller.   In the first step, tell a story; describe an instance that happened to you, happened to someone else, or an instance that might happen. Do your research. This provides a context for learning.   The learner can then answer the “Why?” question for themselves and can begin to learn from you without THE nagging question. As much as people say they want “THE ANSWER”, they always are ready for a good story!


You’ve now setup the student for learning. The next step is to provide the answers. The teacher/trainer is most comfortable delivering information. In technical training, the instructor has two types of information to provide: background information/theory and step-by step instructions. The instructor’s role in this step is simply as a teacher.   In step-by-step instruction, deliver one method for accomplishing the task at a time. This step provides students an opportunity to see the methodology modeled correctly.   If all learners understand the method provided, it is then time to provide optional steps as appropriate.


This step is easy! Practice! Practice! Practice!

Provide your students the opportunity to practice the methodology that is you have taught to them.   Your role is as coach/skilled-guide. All of us learn through trial and error.   It is now the student’s turn to take over the classroom responsibilities. Coaching good … Teaching bad.   It is the teacher’s job to fade into the background an only come out when their skilled opinion is needed.


Let students teach it to themselves. In this step, the teacher is reliant on self-discovery.   The teacher’s role is now transformed into an evaluator/remediator. This step is VERY often left out in the learning process and is the very important. Your clock is not yet complete without this step. In this step the teacher allows students to explore the newly taught materials. I personally learn a lot when student are exploring techniques.

In this step, the teacher is the person that then gets to ask “Why?”. This is a pleasant role reversal for the teacher and many students begin to better understand the learning process.

  The Cycle

But, I don’t have time to do this in my training…you ask too much! Of course you have enough time!   The time spent in each step is not important (10 seconds, 1 minute, 10 minutes). The fact that you have spent some time on each step is important.   I find that this process is largely subconscious in outstanding instructors.   Each of these steps should be used for every instructional session. Move around the clock with the four step and enjoy effective instruction.

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