Step 3: Considering content

Active learning is the key point to remember when you’re developing content for your training sessions. Your audience should not be passive throughout your session but should be encouraged to engage with the content and actively participate in the session.

Climate setting

Setting the “rules of engagement” at the start of your session can go a long way towards lowering barriers and ensuring that your group feels there’s an open forum in which they can speak freely. Aim to create an atmosphere of egalitarianism and inclusion. The group should know that you consider all contributions valuable and that you’d like everyone to contribute. No one should be laughing at what other people have to say.

Discussion

Discussion must form part of your session with group or self-reflection a part of the session or encouraged by a teacher post session. This is particularly important if the presentation was to a very large group.

Rehearsing ideas

Allowing your group to rehearse how they would deal with certain situations through role play, or group work can be very effective in term so arming your young people with practical ways to deal with real life situations. For example “How would you tell someone to slow down and still look cool?” Splitting into small groups and then coming back to present results to the wider group can be an excellent exercise. When followed by discussion of the ideas presented, it can be an enjoyable but also very useful means of engaging young people with the material.

Learning Styles

Be aware that everyone learns in different ways and that some young people may find presenting to group quite intimidating, may not feel comfortable with role play and may even find contributing to the group beyond them. Be flexible in your approach and if you have a shy group adjust your session to suit. Good audience research ahead of your session can be invaluable here in terms of flagging a group that may require a different approach.

If your group doesn’t like to present or speak out in a group situation consider asking them to write down their ideas or even post them in a box anonymously so that you can read them out. Be aware that some groups may be equal uncomfortable with writing down their thoughts particularly if they have different learning needs like dyslexia. The best approach is to be forewarned!

Stimulus

Most groups will respond well to some initial stimulus, which can help provoke discussion. Here statements in a PowerPoint presentation, film clips or images used strategically can be useful in setting your topic or theme for discussion, group work or role play. Remember, however, that you did not need to cover every aspect of road safety. A better approach is to give real value to
10% of the material you could cover than to cover too much and for the audience to engage with none of it. Putting in too much content can stifle learning and the audience may reach information congestion.

Set a theme

It’s a good idea to set a theme for your session such as “distraction” or “speed”. The topic can then inform all of your planned activity and allow real engagement. Your audience can leave your session feeling that they’ve really explored this area and you can approach the topic in a variety of ways to ensure that your main message is internalised by your group.

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