Skip to main content

Reframing, Rethinking, and Re-inspiring Professional Training

How well do your professional development trainings leverage the collective wisdom and experience of the participants, foster a culture of excellence, encourage creativity, and nurture communities of practice?

Reframing, Rethinking, and Reinspiring Professional Training. Photo by Sarah R. Johnson
Reframing how we conduct river and water management trainings can reinspire trainers, engage emerging professionals, and motivate long-time career professionals all while having some fun along the way. Although it may not explicitly be in one’s job description, many times experienced professionals are asked to become trainers. As trainers they are expected to be good facilitators, educators, and interpreters even though that may not be their primary expertise. Trainers who leverage the wisdom of formal educators, professional interpreters, and practiced facilitators can create learning experiences for their staff and colleagues that are highly effective and relevant, while also creating space for innovative leadership within their organizations and agencies.

Reframing, Rethinking, and Reinspiring Professional Training. Photo by Sarah R. Johnson
In order to reconsider how to do this work, we must begin rethinking how we think and learn. Below are a couple videos to get us thinking differently about teaching and learning. How can river and water management trainers leverage the wisdom shared in these videos in their adult learning environments. As you watch these videos consider these questions:
  • How do we incorporate thinking and how to think into our trainings?
  • How can we make curiosity, messiness, and reflection stronger - if not defining - components of adult learning?
  • How can we incorporate failure and being wrong into the culture of our profession and workplaces? How can we stop delivering only information and instead start asking learners to show us how they can use the information?
  • If formal education can kill creativity, does professional development training kill innovation and leadership?
How Thinking Works - Dr. Derek Cabrera

Do Schools Kill Creativity? - Sir Ken Robinson
As this is the most watched talk on TED, there's a good chance you have already seen it. This time, watch it with a lens of adult education and how we can consider Robinson's premises in how we conduct professional development trainings.

How to Learn from Mistakes? - Diana Laufenberg
How can we incorporate failure and being wrong into our organizations? Our process of creating adult learning experiences often focuses on delivering the correct answers and “how-to” instruction. The idea of letting people fail in professional development training could cause the human resources folks to squirm, yet Laufenberg argues that failure is education. If we want people to learn we need to create space to experiment and fail. We need to stop simply delivering information and challenging learners to do something with that information; to tell us what they could do with the information. It could be transformational!

3 Rules to Spark Learning - Ramsey Musallam
How can we make curiosity, messiness, and reflection stronger – if not defining – components of adult education? Musallam describes three rules he uses as a science teacher:
  • Rule #1: Curiosity comes first. “Questions can be the window to great instruction, but not the other way around.
  • Rule #2: Embrace the mess. “Learning is ugly. Trial and error can still be an informal part of what we do every day.”
  • Rule #3: Practice Reflection. “What we do is important it deserves our care, but it also deserves our revision.”
These are powerful ideas that make a lot of sense in a classroom full of children and teenagers – do they also make sense in staff meetings and training workshops? Could employing these rules also reinspire passion and engagement in employees?

I'm inviting you to consider reframing and rethinking how we conduct professional development training so that we might reinspire our colleagues and ourselves to perform the excellent work of managing, studying, and ultimately protecting our natural resources.

Check out the new River Training Center's Certification Program from the River Management Society.

Author, Sarah R. Johnson MAEd, is the founder of Wild Rose Education, an innovative environmental education business providing relevant learner-centered educator workshops, consulting, and youth leadership programming. 
Inspired by


Popular posts from this blog

Help Wanted: Finding Our Patient Courage, Resiliency, and Hope

By Sarah R. Johnson We are desperate for a new story, a promising narrative, words of encouragement grounded in our history of tenacity, strength, and determination. As Americans we are a people of courage, possibility, and hope. It’s in our family stories, in our DNA, and it’s still very much in each and everyone of us, yet it feels hidden deep within and difficult to find at times. Today we are brought down by fear, uncertainty, confusion, disbelief, oppression, and overall lack of confidence in the leadership we are lead by.  Depending on the day and issue this lack of leadership shows up in all of our institutions: schools, religious organizations, government at every level, and sometimes even in our own families. We are becoming victims instead of warriors. Instead of our kids being told to believe that they must go back to school in order to survive (and put everyone at risk of contracting COVID-19), why aren’t we teaching our kids tools of resiliency, courage, and patience? What

Earth Education Expands to Teach Active Participation in Public Life

By Sarah R. Johnson, MAEd, Wild Rose Education Originally published at InTeGrate Science Education Resource Center As the world continues to be bombarded by wicked issues, neuroscience research continues to expand and inform the field of teaching and learning. We scientifically know how to teach learners how to change their perspective to be better observers, rewire neural pathways and, think about problems in systematic expansive ways. Combining this knowledge with the creative ingenuity of our youth, there is ample real hope and opportunity for our future; a future of collective wisdom, a systems approach, and inclusion of all types of knowledge and ever expanding understanding of how the natural world works. Earth Education leaders (administrators, practitioners, and researchers) have a profound responsibility to include the best of what is known about teaching and learning, Earth Science, and community engagement into their every day professions to ensure opportunities to foste

Feathers, Dead Baby Birds, and Eggshells: A Most Authentic Investigation

It is not often that an outdoor science educator has unlimited unstructured time at a nature preserve with a small group of only six 8-12 year olds who are stoked on exploring, asking tons of questions, and creating their own possible explanations. I was blessed with this experience and it has left a visceral impression with me that will last a long time. Taking careful consideration of the evidence On the second day of our Adventure Scientists day camp we began the day heading out to a new area of the nature preserve we hadn’t yet explored. The students practiced their habits of a scientist recalling the skills we had learned the previous day. Utilizing their hand lenses and new language of “I notice…”, “I wonder…”, “it reminds me of…” they set out exploring the grassy peninsula stretching into the lake and the thick willows. There was not a time limit set, only some geographic boundaries. They began to find delicious smelling orchids, interesting textures of plants, and a few cr