In the days leading up to the Global Scrum Gathering (Orlando, FL), the Braintrust Consulting Group organized a two-day “Training from the BACK of the Room” (TBR) workshop just up the road from the Loews Royal Pacific Resort. It was a fast-paced, high-energy two days with Sharon Bowman and 32 attendees, set in a large, comfortable room perfectly suited for a unique train-the-trainer experience.
I hadn’t previously met Sharon, but a year or so earlier I’d bought her book (Training From the Back of the Room!: 65 Ways to Step Aside and Let Them Learn), and I’d since begun dabbling with this accelerated learning model – combining brain science to training and (more recently) speaking & presenting. In fact, I was looking forward to getting a last burst of inspiration for my own presentation at the Scrum Gathering. (Spoiler Alert: I did!)
Different trumps Same
Several of my colleagues from SoCal and across the internets had already been to Sharon’s class, so I was prepared to not sit back and be lectured to. Evidently, I was not alone. The other attendees came prepared to make connections both with the concepts and each other alike. And talk about diversity! We had no fewer than nine participants from outside of North America, and over one-third of the classmates came from workplaces with no knowledge of Agile/Scrum. The mix of backgrounds made for an uptempo, dynamic two days.
Sharon did not disappoint. Her 4 Cs, six trumps and myriad sources (Sharon reads a lot of books!) offer enough possibilities and permutations that you’ll never know what to expect. We stood up, stretched, and moved about the room; we spoke, wrote, drew pictures, played games and told stories.
This was not your traditional training. The projector was always on, but the slides were only to complement the learning, not to serve as the primary conduit to our senses. And you can forget about those lectures that drone on! We (the participants) probably spoke as much as Sharon, if not much more than she. We reaffirmed our belief that learners want to be engaged, and there are unlimited ways to introduce content to make learning much more interesting and effective than by lecture.
By prompting learners to access each other’s knowledge and experiences, you turn up to 11 the efficacy of connecting with the content and concepts. This course lets you discover how the human brain really learns, and this knowledge liberates you from any traditional assumptions you had about learning. You leave having practiced dozens of simple, brain-based learning techniques that you can use without hesitation the next time you train, teach or coach others.
Calling all Scrum trainers
Do you know any CSTs ®, or someone interested in becoming a Scrum Alliance Certified Scrum Trainer ®? TBR is so practical for teaching about Scrum that it’s nearly a pre-requisite whether you’re starting a career as a trainer or simply find yourself facilitating groups and leading meetings. A number of us in the class are somewhere on our own journeys toward training designations, and we had a couple CSTs as co-learners over the two days. (Eight participants joined me after day #1 to record episode 46 of the podcast, and this was one big topic.)
I’ve seen this firsthand while co-training. By liberally applying TBR techniques in a CSM ® course, for example, participants more freely ask questions of their cohorts … and share solutions! They don’t have to be spoon fed; in fact, Sharon’s TBR methods improve learners’ ability to remember concepts and access resources well beyond any two-day session.
Bringing TBR to a place near you
How can you spritz up your own training experience? Do you work outside of a traditional Scrum/Agile workplace and want to imagine the possibilities? I encourage anyone who teaches, trains or mentors to consider attending a TBR workshop. Visit Sharon’s site – bowperson.com – for a current list of upcoming opportunities. There you’ll see that not all workshops are led by Sharon; there are about 90 of us (as of April 2016) certified to present her 2-day train-the-trainer program – the one I’ve described above.
Sharon, however, remains the sole provider of the certification class for TBR Certified Trainers (course and assignments separate from the 2-day workshop), and this allows for consistency among practitioners. (I also took on the additional work to become certified, and my own 2-day TBR courses are being planned for California and Arizona.)