Episode 109: Principles in Action – Confessions of a Former Workshop Rockstar


Cindy Stover used to say her engaging style, appealing PowerPoints, dynamic videos, and great jokes made her feel like a workshop rockstar! We share her reflections on how Dialogue Education™ led to her “aha moment” about the importance of seeing your learners as rockstars too. Listen for tips on moving from a teaching-centered to a learning-centered approach in your learning events.

For more tips, read Cindy’s full blog: Confessions of a Former Workshop Rockstar.

Cindy Stover is a Justice Mobilizer for the Christian Reformed Church in Canada where she works to help people understand their call to enact justice and mercy in every area of their lives, from how they shop, to how they talk to their neighbours, to how their communities respond to the most vulnerable.

For more information on “the 3C Model,” check out our episode with Jeanette Romkema and Andrew Van Liew! 

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This show is produced by Global Learning Partners and Greg Tilton Jr.

Theme music: ‘Pretty Face’ by Una Walkenhorst.

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Read transcripts for the episode below.

Hello and welcome to Shift the Power: A Learning-Centered Podcast where we talk about the revolutionary power of a learning-centered approach. Through this podcast we hope to inspire creative thinking and provide practical tools and techniques to deepen learning through dialogue. I’m your host, Meg Logue.

And today I’m going to read excerpts from a blog post by Cindy Stover — a Justice Mobilizer for the Christian Reformed Church in Canada where she works to help people understand their call to enact justice and mercy in every area of their lives, from how they shop to how they talk to their neighbors, to how their communities respond to the most vulnerable. The blog post is called Confessions of a Former Workshop Rockstar, and it’s an honest reflection on the need to put Learning on center stage.

Cindy says participating in a Dialogue Education course has been a game-changer for me for more than a decade, I’ve done presentations, design curriculums, taught workshops, et cetera. And I was pretty sure that I was good at what I did.

I prided myself in being an engaging communicator and went out of my way to have appealing power point presentations and dynamic videos. I knew my content. Well, I could respond with spontaneity to my audience, and I told great jokes in short. I thought I was a Workshop Rockstar. However, the thing about rockstars is that what they do is all about them. It’s their performance, their knowledge, their recognition. What I learned through Dialogue Education training is that is really not about me. The facilitator it’s about the learners. They need to feel like the rockstars. I’m embarrassed to admit how often I didn’t even consider the learners or their needs, because I was certain that my methods were tried and true.

Now this doesn’t mean that I was a horrible teacher or that my methods weren’t useful, but what I needed was to move from a teaching centered approach to a learning centered approach. Here are some tips that helped me and hopefully will help you. Before we get to Cindy’s tips, we want to stop and say a few words about a learning centered approach. This approach acknowledges the expertise of the learners, as well as the teacher and teaching strategies, invite interactions among all participants. If you’d like to learn more, we have a whole episode dedicated to exploring what makes this approach different. Cindy’s first tip is comprehension over coolness. She says just because we’re using flashy or trendy methods in our teaching does not mean that we will be understood.

This doesn’t mean that there are new and effective techniques and models to strengthen our teaching. It just means that anything we do in a learning setting should be a catalyst for our content to be understood and practiced our methods, whether traditional or contemporary should leave are learners with a deep understanding of the content and the tools and skills to demonstrate what they’ve learned. We need to align all we do with and for the learners to deepen their learning experience. Yeah. In the Global Learning Partners courses, the Cindy referenced. We crafted practical tools that help facilitators align what the learners want and need to learn with the facilitators Rockstar methods. One tool that increases alignment is called achievement based objectives, which name, what the learners will do with the content rather than what content will be taught.

For example, instead of having a training agenda item called starting conversations on best practices, the achievement based outcome reads the learners will have demonstrated starting a conversation around best practices. In this example, the learners themselves are centered in the outcome. You also have a built-in evaluation component. If the learners can do the task, you know, immediately that they learned the most intent. Cindy’s second tip is — share the spotlight. She says, when we think a workshop is about us as a facilitator, we assume that all we have to do is speak or demonstrate, and people will automatically get the content. We need to give learners a chance to do something with the content to take time, to discuss it and practice it and even teach one another.

When we do this, it’s possible that our learners may become our co-facilitators. We’ll see that we’re not the only rockstars in the room. We don’t have to worry about whether the learners got it. We’ll be able to see that they did Cindy’s share the spotlight tip highlights the core principal of engagement, which often takes center stage when facilitators plan or design Learning at GLP. We as a helpful lens called the three C’s to ensure three types of connection. Applying this lens helps to ensure deep engagement for us. All learners. First learners need to connect with the content This what were you most comfortable with? And even a dreaded PowerPoint presentation can be designed in ways to help learners engage at various stopping points, whether online or in person, second learners need to connect with themselves.

Where does this new information fit in their life, in their experiences and their goals. Lastly, learners need to connect with each other to help them make meaning for themselves, their community and their work. Cindy concludes her article with these thoughts. Thanks to Dialogue Education I’ve had my perspective on teaching and learning turned on its head. I’ve realized that to be truly effective in my work, I need to approach teaching in a completely different way. It needs to be learning centered. You can read Cindy Stover’s full blog, including two additional tips and learn more about a learning centered approach on the GLP website at www.globallearningpartners.com.

As always. We end our podcast episode with an open question to continue the learning. What insights have you had recently that have pushed your thinking about how to maximize learning?

[OUTRO MUSIC] Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Shift the Power: A Learning-Centered Podcast. This podcast is produced by Global Learning Partners and Greg Tilton, with music by Una Walkenhorst. To find out more about Global Learning Partners, whether it be our course offerings, consulting services, free resources or blogs, go to www.globallearningpartners.com, we invite you to sign up for our mailing list, subscribe to our podcast and find us on social media to continue the dialog. If you enjoy the show, please consider leaving us a review on Apple Podcasts or your preferred podcast player.