Strengthening the Sector Through Strong Teaching

Have you ever sat through a training that was awesome? Have you arrived eager to learn something you really needed to know and left with concrete action items ready to implement tomorrow? How you experienced the buzz in your body when you were just handed the key to unlock something that has been hard for too long?

Good teaching has been a mainstay of Washington Nonprofits’ learning program since its beginning. Last year we went a step farther—we launched a “How to train” initiative designed to strengthen the training skills of those who teach nonprofit people. Washington is rich in content experts; our state has so many talented people who know their stuff. Knowing fundraising or board practice, however, doesn’t mean that you know how to teach it. We want to make sure that the time nonprofit people spend in classrooms leaves them with the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to take action.

Guila Muir, our partner in this effort, is a master trainer who has helped people around the world to improve their training, facilitation and presentation skills since 1981. She has worked across sectors—from Starbucks to City Light—strengthening the training skills of those who lead. Her book, Instructional Design that Soars, guides trainers through the steps involved in delivering powerful, change-inspiring classes. Guila’s blog shares tips and tools for trainers.

Washington Nonprofits began a partnership with Guila last fall. Over the course of two workshops—one in Seattle and one in Spokane—Guila trained 50 people in her “Kite Method.” Participants included city agency staff who train nonprofits on how to get federal funding, consultants who train nonprofit staff on a range of topics, and nonprofit staff who train clients about services. They shared two characteristics: they need other people to do things differently, and they had limited resources to do so. The partnership was supported by a contract that Washington Nonprofits manages from the Office of the Secretary of State.

We know that nonprofit people are busy and have only a little time to spend in classrooms learning what they need to know. We will continue to lead conversations about adult education and how we can bring the best educational practice into nonprofit classrooms so that learning time is well spent.

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