You’ve signed up for that workshop you’ve been wanting to take. It’s started. You’re in. You’re motivated. You want to feel included. You’re learning… well sort of. Okay, not really. Enter major roadblocks to your learning. It’s time to make your workshops accessible and available for everyone.
Last week I wrote about roadblocks to making our workshops inclusive and accessible and two tools to overcome that; focusing on design and delivery and individual and structural issues. Here are two other tools.
There are so many ways unfortunately to block learning and frustrate learners, to make learners feel left out and not included.
Fortunately there are ways to fix this. It’s time to flip the learning so access and inclusion issues are at the centre. Here are two more ways to do just that.
1. Use Design and Delivery Tools that Are Accessible and Inclusive
Quick! Imagine I just put a new techno gizmo in front of you that you’ve never seen before and have no clue how to use it. In order to learn how, would you first tend to:
- ask someone to explain how to use it
- read the instructions
- jump in and start pushing buttons
This is a quick way to examine your learning preference or how you prefer to get learning into that big, beautiful brain of yours. As workshop designers and teachers, we can inadvertently design with our own learning preference bias, which means we’re leaving learners out (learners who don’t share the same preference).
For example if we like to learn using audio methods- we’ll automatically include lots of talking in our workshops. This will leave out those who like to learn by seeing and doing. Make sure to design and teach in a way that includes audio, visual and kinesthetic (doing).
It was at this point in a training of trainers workshop I gave that a woman stood up and said “That’s what flipcharts are for, I never really understood the purpose of them before!” Can you tell what her learning preference wasn’t? She was definitely not a visual learner.
Here is yet another way to ease your teaching workshops
A tool for ensuring equitable, accessible workshop is Life Lenses®. Life Lenses® is an assessment I designed which looks at the lenses we wear that frame our perspective. Our Life Lenses® frame what comes onto our radar easily, naturally and comfortably and what doesn’t because we deem it awkward, strange, unimportant etc. It quickly and easily points out our natural strengths and the areas we need to work on as workshop designers and teachers.
Finally a third example of using tools that have an access and inclusion focus are being aware of learning priorities or what I call S.A.K.E.s©. When using the S.A.K.E.s© tool we make sure to include all four of skills, attitudes, knowledge and experience. Like with learning preferences and Life Lenses®, we as instructors tend to have biases. If you adore getting to the interaction / let’s try it out part of workshops, that indicates you have a preference for Skills (the S part of S.A.K.E.©).
And to be clear, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a preference, just make sure you include the other learning preferences, Life Lenses® and S.A.K.E.s© as well in order to be accessible and inclusive.
So you’ve hunkered down and paid attention to design and delivery issues, you’ve got structural and individual issues in mind and you’ve used tools like learning preferences, Life Lenses® and/or S.A.K.E.© in your design and delivery. Way to go!
You may be feeling a bit weary about all this effort. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. The fourth tool in designing accessible and inclusive workshops may surprise you at first. It’s about self-care.
It’s not easy paying attention to all of these issues (though wow is it worth it when you create learning that is very powerful and inclusive). Taking care of yourself becomes important so you can take care of your learners.
I recommend creating a self-care kit that’s custom fit for you. It should be filled with things that help you relax and be your best self, so you can serve others with calm competence. Here are some examples:
- a mirror (to check you don’t have anything stuck in your teeth or nose (!) right before you start teaching for example)
- aromatherapy to relax you (lavender), energize you (peppermint) or sooth jangled nerves (Rescue Remedy) (if you’re teaching in person just be mindful of potential allergy issues)
- a candle
- a fidget spinner
- extra supplies (scissors, pens, post it notes, tape etc)
I’ve never taught a training of trainers workshop yet where someone couldn’t articulate an example of being left out or excluded. “Leave no One Behind” – it sounds good yet often workshops do just that. Most learning events are not designed using an inclusive approach. As a result, we leave both learners and valuable insights and potential solutions to pressing social problems behind.
I introduced you to four tools for designing and teaching inclusive, accessible workshops:
- Design and delivery
- Structural and individual
- Inclusive design tools like learning preferences, Life Lenses® and S.A.K.E.s© and
By using these four inclusive steps that anyone can use for face to face and/or online/blended workshops, to overcome bias in workshop design and delivery, not only will everyone have a seat at the table, but they will be able to meaningfully engage.
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead.
- Find out more about Life Lenses®
- Not sure what your learning preference is? Take this learning preference survey
- Contextualizing learning is an important part of the individual and structural step. Here’s a funny example of getting it wrong.
- Take action now. Use one of the two tools above when designing your next workshop. Your future participant will thank you.
P.S. Check out my Workshops that Work online workshop so you can learn 4 steps to taking that beloved subject matter expertise of yours and start teaching it to others.