New DFPS Commissioner Named
Following the October 30th retirement of Thomas Chapmond as head of DFPS, Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins named Carey Cockerell as the new Commissioner.
Mr. Cockerell holds a masters degree in social work from the University of Louisville and served as Director of Juvenile Services for Tarrant County from 1984 to 2004. Prior to that he spent ten years with the Texas Youth Commission.
During his tenure with Tarrant County Juvenile Services Mr. Cockerell established an advocacy program for youth utilizing paid mentors. He also implemented an innovative educational program for expelled middle school students. This program has been replicated throughout the state and currently serves as the model for all Texas mandated juvenile justice alternative education programs.
Carey Cockerell assumed the Commissioner’s position as of January 3, 2005.
HHSC Reviews Culminate in Reform Reports for APS and CPS
Governor Rick Perry issued executive orders in 2004 requiring the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to conduct comprehensive reviews of the Adult Protective Services (APS) and Child Protective Services (CPS) programs. For each program, a variety of policy, programmatic, and resource areas have been targeted for reform. The APS final report was issued in November 2004. The CPS report was released on January 6, 2005. To learn more, visit the links below.
Creative Ice Breakers
The following openers and ice breakers were shared by experienced trainers participating in a recent train-the-trainer workshop facilitated by Mary Garrison.
- 1-2-3 Go
- On the backs of their name tents have participants make 2 columns with numbers 1, 2 and 3 in each. In Column 1 ask the participants to list 3 things they already know about the workshop topic. In Column 2 ask them to list 3 things they wish they knew about the topic. Ask participants to share their lists with their table or move around the room and share with as many others as possible in a given time. Alternately, have the large group share their lists round-robin, while the trainer records them on a flip chart. The trainer then compares the list to the stated objectives for the day. This opener allows participants to recognize the different knowledge levels within the group and understand why the trainer might need to cover some of the basics.
- Dot’s What I Need
- Post the list of workshop objectives on the wall or flip chart. Give each participant a sticky-back colored dot and ask them to place their dot beside the topic they most need to learn about. Alternately, they could use markers and make a check mark beside their chosen topic. The trainer may then summarize the results while reviewing the objectives or ask participants to introduce themselves by sharing which topic they chose and why.
- A la Carte Menu
- On a flip chart trainer prepares a list of all the possible objectives the trainees may come up with for the workshop. Individually participants review the list and make their top 3 menu choices on 3x5 cards or post-its. At tables share the lists and select 3 menu items for the table. Share with the large group as trainer lists the selected menu items on a new flip chart and then posts the menu for the day on the wall.
- Take It Away
- Label 3 flip chart pages with “1st,” “2nd” and “3rd” and post them in different parts of the training room. Ask participants to list the 3 things in order of importance on the corresponding flip charts they want to take away from the workshop. If the group is large ask them to do this by table or have participants write their answers on post-its and stick them on the flip chart pages. The trainer then discusses the participants’ wants and how their expectations will be met through the workshop objectives.
- Make Three Wishes
- In small groups or at their tables ask participants to generate a list of the top 3 wishes for what they would like to learn in the workshop. Each group reports to the larger group while the trainer records their wish list on the flip chart. The completed flip chart is then posted and the trainer refers back to it throughout the training and notes when each wish has been granted.
- City Slickers
- Ask participants to describe the “one thing” that, if they walked out of the training having learned it, would make their time there worthwhile. Can be done in pairs or as a large group round-robin. Trainer lists responses on a flip chart.
- Tell It Like It Is
- On a flip chart or an overhead list the following terms and definitions:
Expert – familiar with the material/topic; here for a refresher
Vacationer – enjoying time away from the office; happy to be here
Prisoner – don’t really want to be here at all
Ask each participant to write on their name tent under their name the term that best describes their attitude about being at the workshop.
- Facts in Three
- On 3x5 cards or post-its have participants write down 1 question and 3 pieces of knowledge they have related to the workshop topic. Share in pairs and come up with 3 they have in common. Share these with the larger group as they introduce themselves or each other.
- Scared Smart
- Ask each participant to write 1 thing that terrifies or challenges them in regard to the workshop topic and 1 thing they could learn today that would lessen their fear or help them successfully meet the challenge. At their tables each participant shares their responses. The table then decides on the 3 most important fears/challenges and 3 most helpful pieces of information. Participants share these during their introductions. The trainer relates these back to the agenda topics and creates learning expectations or objectives for the day.
- No Card Left Behind
- On 3x5 cards the trainer instructs participants to write down the top 2 reasons (1 per side) for attending the workshop. Participants pass their cards to the left around the table. Each person reads the cards and places a check mark next to those responses that are the same as theirs. When the cards return to their originators, the table tallies the check marks for each response and discusses those with the most check marks. The top vote getters are then shared with the larger group.
- Answer Me This
- Go around the room with participant introductions and ask each person to respond to the question “What do you hope to learn about __________ (the workshop topic) today?” Trainer lists the answers on a flip chart and posts it. Before the end of the day return to the flip chart and be sure all the items listed have been addressed.
- Medi-a, Medi-u
- Ask participants to pair up with another person they do not know. Have each participant interview their partner to find out what type of learner they are, what they want to learn about the workshop topic, which agenda topics they are most excited about and why. Partners share this information as they introduce each other to the larger group.
- Just the Facts, Ma’am
- Trainer asks participants a factual question with multiple possible answers (e.g. “Name one of the four roles of leadership?”) related to the workshop topic. As participants introduce themselves have them share their answers. Then utilize their answers in reviewing the training objectives for the day.
- Ask participants to pair up with the person on their left (or right) and introduce themselves. Share 1 thing they want to learn about the workshop topic by relating it to a current or past television show. As participants introduce themselves or their partners to the larger group have them share only the TV show and ask participants to guess how it relates to the workshop topic and objectives. E.g. in a workshop on interviewing skills, someone might use “Cheers” related to the skill of calling the interviewee by their name (“You want to be where everybody knows your name”).
- Nonsense Name for a Day
- Beforehand trainer prepares handouts with a list of 18 to 20 numbered funny adjectives and a second list of 12 numbered funny nouns. At the start of the session ask each participant to count the total number of letters in their first and last names and then find that number in List 1. That will be their new first name for the day. Then ask them to find the number for the month in which they were born in List 2 and that will be their new last name. Instruct them to write their nonsense name on one side of their name tent and their real name on the other. As participants introduce themselves ask them to give both their real and their new name for the day. This ice breaker is particularly relevant for workshops where participants are expected to make a paradigm shift in order to get the most from the learning experience. It is also helpful in forming small groups, since a number of people will end up with the same first and/or last name and could become a small group. (Adapted from Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants by Dave Pilkey)
The Magic of Making Training FUN
This article is written by Dr. R. Palan. Reprinted by permission, http://www.palan.org/resources/writing.htm
Does a FUN session bring to mind the picture of a group of learners laughing so hard they can hardly remain seated in their chairs? Not a bad idea, considering we could all do with some laughs, but that is not exactly what we have in mind. We are thinking of FUN as a much more serious concept, one where we hope to bring back into the training session the sense of wonder, exploration, and discovery which we somehow lost progressively as we left childhood.
When we think of the traditional classroom or training session, what comes to mind is the yawning gap between the deep engrossment of a child in the midst of a discovery and the “when will this end” expressions of adult learners forced into the room by corporate training plans and held imprisoned by learning strategies wholly out of place for adults.
Training aims to address gaps in knowledge, skills, and attitude which adversely affect performance. For training to achieve its ends, it has to meet certain requirements:
- Performance – Training should result in performance. Towards this end it should motivate and support transfer of learning to the workplace. For performance to happen, we need to focus on attention, comprehension, and retention.
- Attention – Training should hold the attention of its audience.
- Comprehension – Training should enable learners to comprehend what is being taught.
- Retention – Training should ensure that learning is retained for application.
Traditional learning falters in gaining learners’ attention, and in ensuring their comprehension and retention. Hence, it fails to deliver on its goal, performance, thus calling to question its effectiveness.
We thought long and hard about what can be done about the corporate training situation which has long ignored the writing on the wall that said “just because we have said it, it doesn’t mean they have gotten it.” And FUN is what we came up with.
What is FUN?
Put simply, FUN refers to those activities through which learners comprehend existing knowledge or create new knowledge through active experiences and interactions with fellow learners and the facilitator.
In FUN learning, we create situations that people intrinsically enjoy. We enjoy sharing experiences; we enjoy puzzles, jokes, and stories; and there is still so much of the child in us that all of us cherish the challenge and competition of a game. There is much that we learn from these though not in a deliberate, conscious way.
FUN and Five “I’s”
FUN is a catalyst and an enabler for learning. It is a vehicle to deliver content. FUN training is based on five principles called the Five “I’s” since all of them start with the letter “I.” The various concepts and techniques in FUN draw their significance from one or the other of these Five “I’s.”
- Introduction – This is that critical stage where first impressions make a difference. We appreciate a warm welcome at any place we go to and the training room is no different. This is the stage where learners and the trainer, till then possibly a disparate group, come together and begin to form a bond and a rapport.
- Involvement – Learners come in as a preoccupied group, still carrying the worries of the outside world into the training room. Involvement serves the purpose of addressing their preoccupation and getting them ready to accept content.
- Interaction – The degree of learning that can happen in an environment where the experiences of many are pooled is greater than what can happen when the trainer “tells.” Adult learners learn from sharing and processing experiences. This creates in them an ownership for the learning.
- Instruction – We know that there is much of content to be covered in a training session, and given that there is only so much of time available to do that, the tendency is to break into a continuous lecture. In FUN training, we look at alternative ways of imparting skill and knowledge, which takes into account the need for moderate content, the adult attention span, and the possibilities in learner-driven methods.
- Intensifying Retention – While the trainer cannot ensure transfer of learning to the workplace, he or she can certainly ensure top of the mind recall of what has been learned during the session, so that citing “I don’t remember what was being talked about in the session” is not what is standing in the way of application of learning. Von Restroff has said that a different processing of an item ensures it a firmer place in memory. So we use various activities to ensure that learners repeatedly register content which might otherwise have been lost because of lack of attention paid to it.
A FUN facilitator is one who uses all these Five “I’s” effectively.
FUN and Adult Learning Principles
Reflecting on why FUN methods succeed where traditional methods fail, we need to review the aptly titled book by Malcolm Knowles, The Adult Learner, A Neglected Species. In a nutshell, the principles say that adults like to know the relevance of what they are learning. They have already learned much and experienced much; therefore, it is easiest to learn when the new knowledge is linked to what they already know, in ways that are enjoyable. Children, Knowles said, learn from experiences; adults are a result of experiences.
FUN Is No Laughing Matter
While so much has been said about laughter and FUN learning, do not mistake a FUN facilitator to be a stand-up comedian. FUN is not an end in itself, and the purpose of its use is not to make people laugh. It is a serious and structured way of facilitating, which nonetheless is entertaining and enjoyable because of the use of techniques like warm-ups, learning tournaments, frame jokes, mind maps, symbolic charades, rewards, etc.
Caution While Using FUN Techniques
Twelve guiding principles need to be considered while using FUN techniques:
- Learner Experience – Tap into the prior experiences of learners as a rich resource to enable new learning.
- Learner Diversity – Take into consideration the differences in learning styles and preferences.
- Learner Readiness – Establish a conducive learning climate for learners to receive content.
- Moderate Content – Remember that the lack of time to cover the syllabus does not justify the dumping of content on the learners. Dumping content on learners may lead to their dumping the content.
- Subject Matter Differences – Use training techniques appropriate to the content.
- Knowledge-Skill Balance – For real world applications, balance knowledge inputs with opportunities for skills practice.
- Attention Span – Adult learners find it difficult to concentrate for more than 20 minutes. So, chunk content into 20 minute bits.
- Group and Cultural Norms – Adapt techniques and tools to suit the audience to avoid resistance.
- Variety – Spice up your learning sessions and eliminate boredom by using a variety of training techniques and learning tools.
- Applications in the Real World – Your learners need a convincing answer in terms of what will benefit them i.e. “What’s in it for me.”
- Small Group Learning – Create threat-free learning environment where participation is encouraged.
- Frequent Reviews – If you make your adult learners review learning many times they might not appreciate it, particularly when it is done in a mundane and routine way. Use a variety of competitive games and other FUN tools for the purpose of review without necessarily referring to them as “review.”
Go ahead, let the Magic of FUN transform your training!
Resources for Trainers: Training and Conferences
- General Train-the-Trainer Resources
- Accelerated Learning Center, Geneva, WI
Train the Trainer Seminars
- Langevin Learning Services, Ogdensburg, NY
Workshops, e-Trainings and Training Techniques
- National Seminars Group and Padgett Thompson Rockhurst University Continuing Education Center, Kansas City, MO
Train the Trainer Conferences
- The Bob Pike Group, Minneapolis, MN
Train the Trainer Workshops and e-Trainings
- VNU Expositions, Washington D.C.
Train the Trainer Conference and Exposition
- Special Focus Resources
DLF, Upper Marlboro, MD
Conferences and Forums Focused on Cultural Competence and Diversity
- Luminary Series, Louisville, KY
- Adult Protective Services
- Department of Family and Protective Services, Austin, TX
Annual Adult Protective Services Conference
- Child Protective Services
- American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, Oklahoma City, OK
Colloquium on Information and Research in Child Abuse/ Neglect Field
- Harmony Home Children’s Advocacy Center, Odessa, TX
Annual Justice for Children Conference
- Prevent Child Abuse Texas, Austin, TX
Annual Child Abuse Prevention Conference, February 21-22, 2005, Dallas
- Child Care Licensing
- National Association for Regulatory Administration, St. Paul, MN
Seminars on Human Care Licensing Practices and Policies
- Prevention and Early Intervention
- Department of Family and Protective Services, Austin, TX
Partners in Prevention Conference
- Excerpts from The Little Book of Kid's Talk by Nanette Newman
- If I had a vote, I’d vote for the Christmas Party. -- Sandra, age 6
- Once I saw a Christmas tree being put to death. -- Sally, age 8
- Old people and children need to be loved more than those in-between. -- Anna, age 10
- Excerpts from Live and Learn and Pass It On by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
- I’ve learned that there are four ages of a man:
When he believes in Santa Claus
When he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus
When he is Santa Claus
When he looks like Santa Claus
- I’ve learned that the time to read the instructions is before you try to put the Christmas toys together.
- I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about people by the way they handle three things: a rainy holiday, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
- I’ve learned that there are no unimportant acts of kindness.
- I’ve learned that happiness is like perfume: you can’t give it away without getting a little on yourself.
- Excerpts from Life's Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
- Never give a loved one a gift that suggests they need improvement.
- Never, ever give anyone a fruitcake.
- Count your blessings.