My cousins are creative geniuses who make handmade cards and invitations. Not run of the mill ones, they qualify as pieces of art – laser cut, ribbons, 3D, boxes that collapse and explode, and many that include local features and elements. And I’m not just saying that because I’m family … you can see what I mean here.

When I went home to Trinidad in December I visited their workshop, which looked like Christmas exploded. I was fascinated and excited by everything I saw, so much so, that one of my cousins, Nikki, offered to teach me how to make a card.

She probably doesn’t know this, but I go into observation and assessment mode every time someone tries to teach me something. I can’t help it. I’m a trainer and facilitator, and it’s my line of work. I’m constantly evaluating learning experiences, even informal ones. So I watched.

At the start of the session she asked me what occasion(s) I had coming up that I might want to make a card for. I loved this! She could have had me help make a card for their business, or something arbitrary – but she didn’t. She made me even more invested by making the experience personal and about me.

Then she showed me lots of different samples of cards to inspire me and give me ideas about what I might want to create. I was able to pull elements from various cards together to make my card.

There was a massive guillotine that I was obsessed with. Even before we started to make the cards I was cutting every scrap I could get my hands on. She showed me how to use it properly and then made the first step all the cutting, utilising what I was already excited about to keep me warmed up and interested.

As we worked our way through, she went step-by-step and was incredibly patient, taking the time to explain why I was doing certain things and how they would fit into the whole that we were trying to create.

One of the last steps was the addition of text. She initially asked me to use Google and find something that worked, but I actually wanted to write it myself. When I suggested it, she was flexible and let me go for it, even though it took a bit longer than planned.

The result was a card that I am so proud of and that my husband was bowled over by on our anniversary.

It’s the start of the year now, and when I’m designing and delivering I keep thinking about that experience:

  • When consulting with clients I am even more conscious of the idea generation process and how I can show them what the possibilities are.
  • I find myself trying to make the experience even more personal for learners, and make it real by showing them how the things we are learning can benefit them and be used in their day-to-day lives.
  • I have been re-thinking the start of my sessions, and making tweaks to ensure that participants are warmed up and ready to learn at the beginning of the day.
  • In the classroom, I’ve been making doubly sure that I’m breaking the learning down, that everyone is following along with me. But more importantly, understanding the reasons underpinning the learning – why are we doing this, why are we covering that, how do the things link together, and more importantly how will it help day-to-day.
  • I am even more on the lookout for those magic moments of excitement and high interest that I can take advantage of. And while I have a clear Agenda and learning objectives, I am more willing to be flexible when learners change the plan, ask questions and want to get more immersed on a certain idea or train of thought.

And all of that from a little card! Thanks Nikks!