Step 2: Plan Your Training

At Illuminate we recognize that sometimes a district's budget and/or schedule does not allow for one of our representatives to visit sites to train your staff ourselves. Thus this "Trainer Toolkit" Chapter (and the lessons contained within) will walk you through the process of conducting a training session yourself.

Be sure to read the "Step 1: Gear Up for Your Training" lesson before this one. This lesson addresses the second of five steps.

Determine Format, Location, and Time Slot

Keeping in mind that different staff members might require different trainings, and that the training you are planning now might be one of many, consider possible formats:

- large group (e.g., all staff introduction to product)

- focus on particular staff members one period at a time using roving subs

- offer different training topics at different times for different groups (before school, after school, etc.)

- play a film (available in our Help manual, accessible by clicking the Help button in the upper-right corner of your screen when you are logged into Illuminate) as a "conference period refresher" in the staff lounge [note: you should definitely visit the Help manual and consider the various videos located there as possible training tools to play for staff as part of your training session]

- optional "lunchtime Q and A" in a "power user's" classroom for staff to get answers to their own questions

- small group question and answer session specifically for staff "power users"

- one-on-one instruction for a low-tech veteran

- staff meeting focus training (e.g., "How to Create an Assessment" or "How to Build a Custom Report") with power users (approached ahead of time) circulating to help others as needed

- staff meeting "share out" where those who have been using the system can share things they are doing with it, how this is helping them (efficiency, time saving, collaboration, etc.), and - most importantly - how this is helping their students (see the "Cool Things to Do with Answer Sheets" lesson for ideas)

- incorporate Professional Learning Community (PLC), grade level, or department meeting discussion (e.g., after teachers have administered common assessment, train them on available reports while accessing and analyzing the new data)

There are other possibilities, as well. Think outside the box and consider all options before choosing the best format and time slot for your training. Also choose a location that will allow at least the presenter to use a newer (and thus faster) computer with Internet access that is hooked up to an overhead projector with some sort of screen where participants can easily see it.

Determine Whether Participants Will Be on Computers

There are pros and cons to participants being on computers. Ideally, hands on experience makes for a more effective lesson, but only if the "cons" are taken into account and you have the time and means to reduce or eliminate them.

Participants ON Computers


- Hands-on experience increases engagement

- Thus, increased learning

- Shows all users, "Yes, you can do this!"

- Participants more likely to remember learned concepts

- Participants are more likely to use the system in the immediate future


- More time is needed for the training

- You risk exposing users to fewer system capabilities (so later they don't necessarily know to "look for" and benefit from a particular function)

- Class can get disjointed as tech-savvy participants move forward and tech-intimidated participants fall behind (this is particularly true if participants use laptops with no mice, as many users can struggle with the scroll pad)

- Easier for users to go "off task" (checking email, visiting other sites or system pages, etc.)

- Frequent interruptions by questions that impact only the person asking them, often someone not used to using technology (e.g., "I can't scroll," "What is a curser?" "How did you get that window to pop up?") or someone who was off-task during your demo (e.g., "I'm on the wrong screen, how did that happen?")

- Requires enough technology to accommodate all participants in one room

Participants OFF Computers


- Less time is needed for the training

- You can expose users to more system capabilities (so later they know to "look for" and benefit from a particular function)

- Class stays unified (you don't risk tech-savvy participants moving forward and tech-intimidated participants falling behind)

- Users stay "on task"

- More "quality questions" (e.g., as opposed to "I can't scroll," "What is a curser?" "How did you get that window to pop up?")

- Technology only required for the presenter


- Less engagement (more daydreaming)

- Less learning

- Users can walk away thinking, "There is no way I can do all of that!"

- Participants more likely to forget learned concepts

- Participants are less likely to use the system in the immediate future

Consider the nature of your training, your staff, your time-slot, and your equipment, and then choose the option that will work best (taking steps to overcome its cons). Keep in mind that anyone on a computer will need Internet access to use the Illuminate system and that newer systems work better with GradeCam and are typically faster.

Write an Agenda

Writing an agenda (as opposed to just forming a plan in your mind) will help you to identify needs for transitions, communicate the plan to those you are collaborating with, and best plan your time. It will also help you communicate the session's agenda to those who attend the training.

Be sure your agenda takes your environment, format, participants, and time slot into consideration. For example, if your staff members are not very tech-savy and will be on computers for the training, you might want to cut down on the amount of material you plan to cover. If your training occurs at the end of a full day of classes, you will need to account for ways to hold a tired staff's attention.

Most of all, you will want to keep your purpose (from the "Step 1" lesson) in mind so that attendees leave your session with the desired level of understanding and skills.  Here are some sample agendas (you can either use one for your training or use it as a model while creating your own):

Agenda for Illuminate Data and Assessment (DnA) Introduction Training (Short Version).

Agenda for Illuminate Data and Assessment (DnA) Introduction Training (Long Version).

Agenda for Report and Assessment Training (Long Version).

Agenda for Illuminate Gradebook Training (Short Version).

Agenda for Illuminate Gradebook Training (Long Version).

Involve Others

As noted in the "Step 1" lesson, you should definitely be involving others in the planning process (e.g., feedback from staff PLCs on their training needs, etc.). At this point, you should also involve anyone directly involved in producing the training. For example, coordinate with whoever is responsible for:

- reserving the room where training(s) will take place

- staff calendar (be sure there are no conflicts and get your training scheduled so no new conflicts arise)

- setting up technology (who will set any computers up, who will hook up the overhead projector, who will set up the mic and/or audio if necessary, etc.)

- maintaining technology (who will be present to help with technology during the training, if possible)

- user names and passwords (or users to log into Illuminate, for accessing your district's Internet network, and for logging on to any computers you are using)

- grounds (you don't want leaf blowers and riding lawn mowers running when you are trying to train)

- office staff (provide a script - including location, time, and purpose - for one final loudspeaker announcement 10 minutes before the training reminding staff to attend; otherwise, try to avoid interruptions like ringing bells, loudspeaker announcements, pulling out staff for parent calls, etc.)

Invite Others

To optimize attendance (as well as the attitudes of those attending), give staff the following:

- plenty of notice

- notice through varied venues (an emailed "appointment" they can calendar with a click, announcement at staff meetings, slips in teacher boxes,... whatever is necessary to reach all types of teachers)

- a reminder the day before the training (reference the original notice so staff does not mistake this as the first notice)

- clear directives (is this required or optional, who should come, etc.)

- training specifics (start time, likely end time, date and day of week, place, anything they should bring, topic, purpose, how this fits in with site/district vision and other projects)

Next Steps

Now you are ready to read the "Step 3: Set Up for Your Training" lesson.