The parties, weddings, and social events we remember most vividly typically have one thing in common - we were primed to connect. Like most events, we received an invitation ahead of time, but the truly memorable ones extended these overtures a bit more personally. We may have been asked to contribute a story, a dish, or a beverage. We may have interacted in an online space prior to convening in person. We may have received a detailed itinerary of activities that built excitement about the upcoming experience. Some events start the party early through challenges, scavenger hunts, and photo sharing. But in all cases, we were primed and ready.
This "priming" is critical to the adult learning process, however, it is often overlooked when designing trainings, workshops, staff meetings, and other professional learning experiences. Getting our hands on an agenda and meeting location can be a tough feat for some events. Not only does this lack of priming breed anxiety about what is about to come, it also misses a key opportunity to connect learners and engage them long before they set foot into a conference room or classroom.
When planning professional learning experiences, we need to cultivate safe spaces for learners to connect and ensure they are not showing up empty handed. Consider ways for learners to become positively interdependent on one another in the growth process. These actions can take place independently or collaboratively, but cultivating this connective tissue among learners helps to establish a sense of community even before the synchronous engagement officially launches.
Here are some ideas for priming:
Request inclusion activity ideas
Share the agenda and necessary provisions
Share a puzzle to build curiosity
Journal or narrate a typical day for one class
Diagnose learners' mindsets
Pre-assess learners' skills
Provide a shared book/reading with annotation tied to a clear purpose
Watch a video
Draft a "big" question related to the work
Identify a website or tool to share
Bring a photo or copy of one's favorite book
Reflect on strengths and growth opportunities
Create a digital bulletin board
Our learning experiences do not need to be bound by time and space.
Our collaboration is deeper than clock hours.
Share an idea you plan to employ to prime the learners in your space.