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TFTBOTR stands for Training from the Back of the Room. It is a training style developed by Sharon Bowman and explained in her excellent book of the same name.

TFTBOTR is based on how adults learn and is focused on maximising retention. It describes four parts that should be included in any training plan. These parts are known as the 4Cs and are described below.

  • C1 – Connections: To get participants to connect with each other and the trainer(s), and to connect participants to what they  already know about the topic
  • C2 – Concepts: Some facts and theoretical concepts about the topic
  • C3 – Concrete Practice: An activity or simulation to experience the topic
  • C4 – Conclusion: An opportunity for participants to evaluate what they have learned about the topic and think about how they might apply it.

Another important concept from TFTBOTR is to use different activities when training. People have various styles of learning: some are visual, others need to hear, and some need to write. Sharon recommends including a mix of activities that use different parts of the brain in each training plan.

Download the 4C template below here: 4C template

Starting to use the 4C method can be difficult and strange in the beginning. I know we struggled at first 🙂 We developed a template to help formulate our thoughts. Please download it and use it!

4C image
  • The box in the top left corner is for the name of the topic.
  • The big clock icon gives the time for the entire plan; the smaller clock icons in each quadrant give the
  • time needed for that section.
  • The box in the top right corner has a space for you to enter the time for a section. For example 9:00 to 9:30 am. This helps you stay on track during the training. Note that these are not filled in on training plans we provide. We suggest you fill them in when you plan your training.
  • The rest of the page has a quadrant for each of the 4Cs, with C1–C4 in the background. C1 covers connection activities. C2 is for concepts and is usually a short lecture. C3 is for concrete practices or some activity to help people understand what they have learned. C4 contains conclusions of how people might apply the learning.
  • At the bottom of each quadrant you can circle what the participants are doing in each section: Move, Speak, Draw, Listen, Write. This helps ensure that you have sufficient variety in each topic.

Here is an example of a filled in 4C template:

From this you can see the whole plan takes 25 minutes: C1 (2 minutes); C2 (8 minutes); C3 (10 minutes); C4 (5 minutes). The plan includes movement, writing, listening and speaking.

You will notice in this example that the C3 section includes a lecture part while C2 includes an activity to help people remember the Agile Manifesto. Sometimes C2 and C3 can be switched around, especially for topics where people can self-discover the theory.

If you like the idea of using 4C plans take a look our book: Growing Agile: A Coach’s Guide to Training Scrum
with forewords from Ron Jeffries and Sharon Bowman. We include all our 4C plans for training a 2 day Scrum Class – enjoy!

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