Taster sessions. When preparing for classes this phrase can bring a whole host of emotions. A chance to meet a new face and showcase everything both you, and IQBar have to offer -this is no mean feat! Not only do these taster sessions provide the opportunity to develop relationships with new students but also the opportunity to get an extra £20 for every student who signs up after your taster session – there is everything to play for!

Perhaps taster sessions excite you, perhaps they make you feel nervous, or maybe you’re on the hunt for the winning formula which gets you Breadies signing up every time. We’ve put this post together with suggestions and ideas from our Buddies and management to highlight exactly how you can achieve more successful taster sessions. We’ve broken it down into each stage of the session to help you compare and develop your own techniques.

The introduction

First impressions, as they say, count, and when introducing yourself to a Bready for the first time this is particularly important. This is where the Bready, regardless of age, will pick up on how confident you are, how professional you are, and how much they trust you to teach them, so it’s important to get it right.

This not only means how you act, but that your appearance is friendly and professional, your background is prepared and Bready appropriate (and fun!) and that you’re lighting makes you easily visible.

Start the session by introducing yourself and your name, then asking them for theirs. Even if you know what their name is, asking them allows the first initial conversation, the chance for them to speak, and the preliminary testing of their level if they are at the lower stages. By introducing yourself first, you also give them a structure to follow. Follow this on with other basic questions such as ‘how are you?’ and ‘what do you like to do?’

This is a great time for you to make the session personal, get them to feel comfortable with you and that you are interested in them as a person, rather than just wanting to storm through the lesson and get it done.

Perhaps our Buddy Cecilia has the simplest, but perhaps most important advice:

 “SPEAK SLOWLY” Cecilia

Whilst this may seem obvious, it is important to always remember in any form of presenting to slow down. Particularly when introducing yourself to a new Bready, it can be easy to get carried away with excitement, nerves or just generally wanting to make the Bready feel welcome. Take a breath and remember that your Bready may be feeling quite overwhelmed, meaning that a slow question or greeting may seem even faster at first.

Along with this, don’t feel the need to fill silences with sudden answers, if you ask your Bready ‘how are you?’ or ‘how old are you?’ give them a little space to process what you’re asking before trying to reword it or help them. Maria K has written a great piece on the blog about not fearing the wait time.

Danny has also put together an excellent piece about Chinese customs including useful phrases in Chinese and how not to offend students unwittingly.

The content

If you’re tackling a taster session that you haven’t done for a while or are unfamiliar with, allow yourself time beforehand to go through it to know exactly what’s coming up and what kind of props you’ll need as well as what sort of questions you can ask.

On the flip side of this, if it is a taster level that is very familiar to you, don’t go into autopilot! Make sure you are present for your Bready and treat their reactions and responses as if these aren’t slides and answers you’ve been through perhaps 100 times. Sing along to the song! Whip out some excellent dance moves, introduce shapes with interesting shapes around your house.

Read through the lesson plans and instructions found in the resources folder for Buddies! There are plans and instructions for every taster, and these offer not just one approach for the slides but multiple. Take Picaro 1A for example, the board-game slide may seem a little difficult with a lower level learner, but the lesson instructions provide alternative ways to look at the slide and the image which you may not have thought about (or felt like you were able to do!)

“The main things are ensuring the assessment of the Bready is accurate, the sessions are engaging, fun and there is clear progress. Some Breadies just like to have a taster without any intention of buying. Others try out a few different companies before buying.” Sarah, General Manager

What is important then, is working at an accurate level. Not too simple or too difficult. You can read our recent blog post about not fearing moving away from the assigned level here which provides explanations for jumping about levels in tasters.

Sarah also highlights the importance of making the session fun and engaging. Perhaps the best way to achieve this with younger to teenage Breadies is by making the lesson not only about the screen, but by getting your Breadies to interact with what is around them too. Get them to show you different shapes and colours around them, get them to show you their favourite book and discuss it, ask them about their favourite toy and see if they have it with them. Whilst it is exceptionally important for Buddies to use props, so too is it important for Breadies to be also using things around them, bringing the lesson more into the real world.


Closing the session

When we asked our Buddies for tips about taster sessions, there was a lot of discussion about the ending of the session. These are a few of our Buddies’ points and ways in which they leave the session with a lasting impression:

“I like to end my lesson off on a very positive note. You can ask the bready if they had fun or if they enjoyed the lesson. It’s always good to make them smile at the end so I like spending a minute or two thanking them for coming to class and congratulating them on their amazing work! I then end off by saying that I really hope to see them again next time.” Maria C

“Include an area for development and say how we can help them achieve that. With my next tastes I’m thinking I will include more of a closing routine verbally as well now… perhaps with older/more capable, or when the parents are there asking what they would like to focus on in the next lesson? (and adding in the review)” Sarah W

“We need to look at the way we finish our sessions. I’m not sure how everyone else ends their taster sessions but it does definitely help if you spend a little more time giving them positive feedback in detail and asking them if they had fun in the session.

Also adding something to your feedback at the end, telling them you can’t wait to see them in another lesson and that you are proud of how much improvement they’ve shown helps too :)” Emma C

Reviewing the session

“My little tip to end tasters – ending  the reviews with a positive comment and something like…see you in your next lesson or hope to see you again soon. For adults (not that I had many of them), but for the ones I had I used: I have taken some notes of your needs and will place them on this class so for your next lessons we look at topics and material for your needs.” Rose Barbosa

“Give the bready a reason to want more lessons.  Be careful though not to make it sound like negative feedback, keep it positive.  Instead of saying “the bready struggles with ……………” I think it may be better to say, “The bready can improves his …………………… with further lessons and practice,”  – My opinion, up to you.” Grant B

“Reviews should be clear with specific points relating back to the session.” Sarah

Our final point is making sure that there is clear, constructive and achievable feedback in the review which not only provides the Bready’s parents with concise information about the lesson – proving that it was a lesson taken seriously, but offers the parent an idea about what to expect further down the line. It also shows that the Buddy was highly attentive to the Bready throughout in understanding the students’ needs.

IQBar is a teacher-led platform and not a business-led one. It is small attention to details like these which make IQBar and its Buddies stand out. If you can show the Bready that you care about them and their progress, and that there is a clear mapping of the progress they can achieve in the coming sessions, you are far more likely to have a returning Bready.

We hope you have found this blog post useful! We also want to make it very clear that this is not the end of the discussion on successful taster sessions however, but just the beginning. If you have anything you would like to add about techniques or ideas please write below and we will continue to add. All views are valid and it is through our collective brainpower that we continue to grow and develop!