Right before Agile 2011, I had the opportunity to co-train a CSM course with an awesome candidate to join the ranks of Certified Scrum Trainers, Karen Greaves.  One of the reasons why I was interested in training with Karen is that she has been applying many of the Training From the Back of the Room (TFBR) concepts that I have been very curious about and looking to apply in my course.  I was curious to see how another practitioner would take these concepts and use them to teach Scrum.

The most visible benefit of my collaboration with Karen was for me to “4C” my training plan for my CSM course.  4C is an acronym that stands for “Connection, Content, Concrete Practice, Conclusion” and they are framework for an instructor to help design their class that  leverages TFBR and Accelerated Learning.  The 4C’s are described in more detail below:

  • Connections: This is the beginning or opening of a training.  It can also include pre-training time as well.  During the Connections step, learners make connections with what they already know, or think they know, about the training topic.  They also make connections with what they will learn or want to learn with the other learners in the training group, and with you, the trainer.
  • Concepts: This is the direct instruction, lecture or presentation part of a training,  During the Concepts step, learners take in new information in multi-sensory ways: hearing, seeing, discussing, writing, reflecting, imagining, participating and teaching it to others.
  • Concrete Practice: This is the active review that usually follows information delivery.  During the Concrete Practice step, learners actively practice a new skill using the new information, participate in an active review of what they have learned and again teach others what they know or can now do.
  • Conclusions: This is the wrap-up or closing part of a training.  It can also include post-training time as well.  During the Conclusions step, learners summarize what they have learned, evaluate it, make a commitment to use it at work or in their lives and end with a short celebration of their learning experience.

From my experience with Karen and applying the 4C’s on my own, the framework offers instructors two powerful advantages:

  1. Your course immediately becomes modular.  Each learning objective  is achieved by connecting the learners to the topic, teaching them content, allowing them opportunities of concrete practice to try out the material on their own and closes with a conclusion before moving to the next learning objective.  Your course then becomes just a series of 4C’s that knocks down one learning objective after another.
  2. The 4C’s provide a fantastic diagnostic tool to help you improve your course.  Since the class is now modular, if a connecting activity is not working, you can switch it.  Content section is too long?  Move to concrete practice sooner.  As instructor, I felt that I had really good content and concrete practice exercises, but my courses were weak on connections and conclusions.  Look to Sharon Bowman’s book – The Ten Minute Trainer – for over 150 exercises and activities that help with these areas..