At Learning Performance we have such a talented and inspiring team of presenters we thought it only fair that we spread their awesomeness across the blog-a-sphere.
We caught up with our presenter, Eric, who has worked with us for over 12 years, to give you an insight into the work we do with schools across the UK.
Q: Why Did You Start Working for Learning Performance?
I have always enjoyed being around young people and wanted to work with them for a long time. I was looking into becoming a supply teacher when I learned about LP.
Q: What Was Your Background Before You Became A Presenter?
I worked for British Airways for many years. I still run corporate training there and at other organisations around the UK. I also lecture part time at a University on Sales and Marketing.
Q: Which Workshops Do You Enjoy Leading The Most?
All the workshops are fun to present. What I find most rewarding and enjoyable is trying to tap into what will most benefit the individuals in the room. It is often something to do with motivation, stress or feeling overwhelmed. I love it when they see that they can take control and get inspired to make good choices.
Q: What Is A Typical Day Like In The Life Of A Presenter?
It starts a week or so before the job when we need to plan how we will get there (we work all over the UK and sometimes Europe). We also get notes from LP letting us know what’s expected (timing, special requests, a bit about the school and students). We aim to get there at least a half an hour before we start. That gives us a chance to speak to the teachers and set up our rooms so that we are ready when the students arrive. A cup of tea is nice at this point as well!
Time to prepare in the morning can make a big difference, particularly to the all-important first impressions. There are also days when we just walk right into a classroom full of staring faces. The challenge either way is to get them interacting and involved as soon as possible. It’s a workshop, not a lecture!
We spend most of our time introducing new concepts and getting the students to try them out. Some things take more convincing than others. I tend to tell the participants funny stories about my own life and how this stuff has worked for me.
I always try to leave the day on a high. The children or young adults we’ve spoken to should feel good about learning new techniques, but also inspired to actually use them.
Q: Why Is It So Important To Inject The Current Curriculum With Creativity?
There are so many reasons;
1. We learn more quickly and hold onto information better when it is creative. Try this; think of a horse. Are you picturing the word “horse” or an image of a horse? I bet it was an image. Our brains think in pictures and for memory effectiveness we often need to link words to something creative like a picture, a song, a movement, a diagram – even a smell.
2. Long term, the best and most satisfying jobs will go to people who can come up with creative solutions to problems. Anybody can just do what has always been done, but a leader finds a new and better way. If we don’t stretch the creative side of the brain and practice the discipline to learn at school, how are we preparing ourselves to do so in business or our personal lives later on in life?
Q: Which Age Groups Do You Enjoy Working With Most And Why?
15-18 year olds. I love working with students who are feeling adult pressures and making adult choices, but still have the open-minded optimism of youth. Sometimes you need to convince the cynics that they can learn more easily or make learning fun. I enjoy that challenge. It’s like when athletes talk about “marginal gains”. The little changes we can all make that might not make a big difference individually, but can add up to success. Often the cynical ones just need to see that they make a difference with every choice they make. They can then decide if they are willing to work for a positive or negative outcome.
Last autumn I did a number of workshops with very young children (years 1-6). Their boundless energy, excitement and unconditional love is hard not to enjoy also.
Q: Many Children Suffer From Low Self-Esteem And Low Confidence. How Do Your Workshops Address This?
Those children are the reason I got into this work in the first place. I think that lack of self-esteem is probably the biggest reason the students I see are under-performing. I get them to try tasks and see that they can succeed. I sometimes get them doing things that they are bound to fail at the first time, so we can talk about learning from mistakes and being prepared. For this I have some complicated yoga moves that work really well.
I’m tough on them when I hear excuses and negative self-talk. It is too easy to blame personal problems for our failure; dyslexia, unsupportive family, teachers we don’t like…There are so many excuses that prevent us from trying hard. Success doesn’t come without trying hard. Like they say, “you have to work hard to get lucky”. The most successful people are often those who had the biggest battles to fight, because they learned from an early age to be responsible for their own success (or failure).
Q: What Has Been Your Proudest Moment As A LP Presenter?
I was at a university in Essex a few years ago when a new student stopped me. He remembered me from the LP workshop I ran at his school a couple of years before. He said it was the reason he was at university. He may have been exaggerating, but I have never been as proud of what I do as I was at that moment.