Topic 3 Facilitating tips for teachers as trainers of preventive interventions

Some general principles of learning teachers can use as trainers when implementing a preventive intervention with their class are:

  • Encourage students participating in the training to be actively involved. A variety of learning activities should be provided to enable learners to seek out information, ask questions, formulate responses, think critically and creatively, and apply their new knowledge, attitudes and skills. All activities should be specific to the local situation.
  • Use clear direct language, define new terms, demonstrate skills, and use appropriate learning material to enhance the comprehension and retention of the material being taught. It is necessary to use a local language that can readily be understood. 
  • Each time you begin a new topic, make sure that the previous topics are used as the basis for understanding the new knowledge and skills. The learners should be able to move from one topic to the next one, having fully understood the previous one. 
  • Underline what is being done well and correct errors when is necessary to avoid misunderstandings on the topic. In this way, learners are encouraged to learn.
  • Treat each person in the training as a unique individual. People have different experiences, interests, abilities and learning styles. Try to figure out what the students already know on the topic and use a variety of training methods to meet their needs. Extra motivation may be needed for some students. All students must reach to finally learn the same.

Regarding the training methods, for implementing a primary preventive intervention, a teacher-facilitator should focus on participatory training methods. Studies have shown that people remember 20% of what they hear, 40% of what they hear and see, and 80% of what they discover for themselves. Some of the most indicative methods are:

  • The students are given group tasks to complete, and they talk much more than the facilitator. Smaller groups tend to be more effective (3-6 students) as there is more time for all the members of the group to express themselves. The students should discuss one topic each time and the duration can vary according to the topic (up to 20 minutes maximum). In the group, one person should be selected to be the “secretary” and write the findings and one to be the “presenter” of the findings to the whole class.
  • A practical skill is presented by the facilitator or an assistant of the facilitator. The students should then have enough time to practice the skill and additional time should be also calculated for giving feedback.
  • The students visit a place; this method gives the chance to the learners to experience a real-life situation, relevant to the material of the training. The facilitator should make sure that this place is adequate and therefore, inform the place for their arrival. 
  • A game can be used for the needs of the training. The facilitator should make sure that is culturally acceptable for the setting. This article can provide valuable ideas of games that can be adapted and used when implementing the theme of resisting peers. 
  • Problems are outlined, demonstrated, and discussed with learners. This method is very useful for enforcing positive attitudes. The students work in small groups, and they need to have enough time to practice their roles and then present them to the group.

For a successful role-playing activity, a teacher should be well prepared by deciding the objectives of the activity, writing in advance clear scripts, specifying clear roles, and describing them in detail so the learners can act accordingly. Also, the teacher should facilitate the role play by giving clear instructions, repeating them if necessary and checking around for any support needed. Discuss issues arising from the plan and draw some conclusions with the learners, encourage the observers to share their feedback and the actors to share their feelings, and help learners to gain their balance in case they were affected emotionally by the role play. Go back to the activities of unit 1 if you wish to remember some role-playing ideas.

  • Learners are asked to present their ideas as soon as they come to their minds. The idea is to collect a lot of ideas for a specific topic/issue/question during a limited time (normally short). If there are shy students, it would be better to use brainwriting in small groups (it can be executed individually by writing the ideas on “post-its” and sticking them to the relevant space of the group). 
  • Many learners respond positively to songs and stories. An example of such a positive outcome can be this tool which was tested with many youngsters and resulted to be a useful tool for sharing stories.

The above methods are not enough per se. A trainer should develop a communicative and trustful environment where the learners will feel free to express themselves. Communication includes both verbal and non-verbal elements. Regarding the verbal elements, they are connected to what is said and how the speech is used. A trainer should have listening, speaking, and feedback skills.

  • Make eye contact with the individual or group to show interest and attention to what is being discussed.
  • Avoid direct eye contact if this is impolite or insulting to the culture of some students.
  • Focus your attention on the students when they talk and do not appear distracted and in a hurry. 
  • If students are speaking, give time so that they finish their sentences or thoughts before you comment or answer. 
  • Treat each person or group as unique and avoid being judgemental.
  • Speak clearly, coherently and loud enough.
  • Use clear words and expressions.
  • Encourage students to speak more.
  • Give constructive feedback and not be judgemental.
  • Give feedback immediately.
  • Give focused feedback and not something irrelevant or of no importance.
  • Give “two-way” feedback, giving the chance to the student to reply to this feedback.
  • As for non-verbal communication skills, it includes all body movements and gestures of a speaker.
  • These can reveal what and how the persons are thinking or their attitudes in front of something said or commented by a student. It involves indirect elements such as facial expressions, body movements, hand gestures, postures, the type of clothing and the physical distance between those communicating.
  • So, for instance, when a teacher gives feedback at the time of the prevention training, verbal phrases and non-verbal expressions should be aligned. The tone, rate of speech and facial expressions, say as much as words. Avoid shifting your chair if seated, or letting your eyes go distracted.
  • Be knowledgeable on the material and the goals of the training.
  • Plan and play a lead role during the training.
  • Use uncomplicated and clear language.
  • Use relevant and appropriate learning aids. 
  • Use real-life experiences.
  • Use training methods that work.
  • Make learning interesting by varying methods of training, using short sessions, and encouraging participation of the students.
  • Make learning pleasant by joking and making the environment comfortable and conducive to learning.
  • Provide the proper support and guidance to enhance learning (knowledge, attitudes, skills development).

These listening, speaking and feedback skills are very constructive skills that can build confidence between the facilitator teacher and the students, and it is strongly suggested to be used as guidance for the overall management of the class and not only during prevention training.

  • Be a positive role model in decision-making and problem-solving.
    • You can think aloud so that the students can see how you try to solve the problem and find the best solution.
    • You can ask sorry when you do a mistake and comment how you are thinking to fix it.
    • Be precise and never give up even in very difficult situations.
    • Be respectful.
    • Be self-confident for who you are.
  • Encourage the positive elements of the students. Remind the students that a prize was decided because they did well. Talk with the students about their feelings. In this way, the motivation of the students remains, and positive behaviours continue and repeat.
  • Express your expectations as to when the teacher believes in students, students tend to react and perform accordingly.
  • Create a positive climate in the classroom and discuss respecting each other.