Category Archives: training

Nan couldn’t have picked a better time to call…

I was locking up tonight after doing RSA training. I had everything packed and grabbed my take home pile and, you guessed it, checked my phone. 5 minutes before was a missed call and message from Nanna.

Instead of going straight home I locked myself in and rang her back.

Best decision ever! We talked for 20 minutes about all sorts of stuff. My favourite topic of conversation being the two occasions Nanna got a bit tipsy.

The first story was back when it was 10 o’clock closing and they were at a Lounge bar for a fire brigade do.  Before 10pm, as was the norm, everyone stockpiled their drinks.  Nan had been drinking squash, but the friend who went to the bar got her gin squash, assuming this was what she’d been drinking all night. When Nan and Pa finally left at 2am she had finished all three stockpiled drinks, not tasting the gin. She was a little unsteady on her feet, as was Pa. They held each other up and made it home safely.

The second story was after golf. They’d won because of Nan (I hope I got this right Nan?) The team persuaded Nanna  to have a sherry to celebrate. Before she knew it one of the ladies had grabbed Nan’s hand and pulled her up onto the tables as they were dancing the night away Nan looked over and saw <forgotten his first name> Plum looking over the bar. She’d been caught by a neighbour.

Unfortunately we also talked about grief and sadness. Last week Pa would have turned 90, my uncle has lost a best mate to cancer and one of my best friends lost her sister who had also battled the big C. Pa and her dad were first cousins. Life can be tough when the inevitable happens.

The older I get the more I cherish every single conversation I share with both of my grandmothers. I love that Nan never felt the need to drink to have a good time. She is fun and full of life with a cheeky sense of humour without it.

I wouldn’t even need to teach RSA if the world was full of Nan.


Are you being served? 6 ways to keep me happy if you are my wait person.

When I go out and pay others to cook for me and others to wait on me I expect, at a minimum, the kind of table service which reflects good table manners.

It seems of late that people either don’t care about good service or have just accepted it will not happen. Well I would like to say that I do care about good service and have much pride in providing it if I was your server.

So, I expect you are waiting for it….

What pisses me off?

  1. Not talking to me. At the very least when I enter a premises I would like to be acknowledged. Eye contact and a nod of the head will do. Just please don’t pretend I am not there. I am. I have cash. I will spend it. I will bring friends if you are nice. I pay some of your wages which equals your bills.
  2. Talking to me, but not asking me if you can help. You have walked to the table. It is a place of table service. You drop a menu in front of me. I know I would like a drink, I love drinks, but you have gone before I can order one. The more drinks I drink, the better equipped you will be to pay your bills.
  3. Serving our table one plate at a time. The art of sending all meals out together is taught to chefs and wait staff universal. The food is prepared so as it all comes out together. If it cannot be all served together, apologise to the customer and explain. Good table manners prevents me from starting my meal until all food has arrived. If my food has gone cold I will not enjoy it. If I enjoy the meal and the service is awesome. I tip. This will help you pay your bills.
  4. Removing an empty glass without asking whether I would like another drink. Perhaps I should remind you. I LOVE DRINKS. I might only need more water, regardless, please offer me more. The more drinks I have the more generous I become. This could lead to a bigger tip. You might be able to pay some bigger bills.
  5. Clearing our plates before everyone at the table has finished. My blood is boiling just thinking about this one.
    How a knife and fork look when you have finished your meal

    How a knife and fork look when you have finished your meal

    Do not clear our plates until the last morsel has been devoured. I mean it, the last morsel of food. Don’t guess this. If you are uncertain as to whether the customer is finished, ask them. Those of us who were taught manners will have our knife and fork placed together in the centre of the plate to indicate that we have finished. If you follow this common courtesy I will return to your establishment and bring more friends, spend more money and help you to pay your bills.

  6. Avoiding bringing the bill. We have eaten. There is nothing left for you to sell us and yet you have disappeared without a trace or are avoiding eye contact again. We require the bill so we can pay you. You guessed it. If we pay our bills you can pay yours.

These six are just the tip of the iceberg. Underneath lies a range of other crappy practices which has turned dining out into eating somewhere. Don’t even get me started on the customers who don’t know which side plate is theirs, whose glass is whose and who pile up their plates in order to help the server. Those topics are for another day when I look at this from the server’s perspective.

Delivering Quality Training

My blood is boiling!! Let me share why.

I have two titles at a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) who pride themselves in delivering quality courses. My two roles are;

Trainer, both Certificate II in Hospitality as well as Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. I also do some short courses.

Training coordinator, which means I  make sure all of the course compliance is in place, meeting the (rather strict) requirements of our National Regulator.

Situation 1. What seemed like a polite phone call from a trainer from a competing RTO. He rang to ask if he would be treading on our toes if he arranged to deliver Certificate III in Hospitality locally. The short answer was no, as we don’t have Certificate III on our scope of registration.

So I get chatting with this person, as I love to grow my network. Where would you do it? How are you going to get enough enrolments in two weeks? …It comes out he would be delivering this course over 5 days.

“Five days?” I ask, “how do you propose to address the practical placement required in 5 days?”

I was told, it’s ok, it’s a five day intensive course, all practical and delivered in a fully operational bar and function room.

So what made me fire up? This RTO can’t be following the rules, and some poor unsuspecting people are paying good money for a dodgy qualification not worth the paper it is written on.

Certificate III in Hospitality requires 36 service service periods for practical placement
The nominal hours for this course are Minimum 322- Maximum 352.
A range of assessment methods should be used to assess practical skills and knowledge.

These are just a few examples of the flaws I could see in the course about to be delivered.

I think what incensed me more than anything was this person did not seem to know anything about these requirements, requirements which he should have learnt when he completed his Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit, which leads me to believe he has obtained his qualification from an equally unethical RTO, in a very short amount of time and although he might know his stuff as a hospitality worker, he certainly doesn’t know his stuff as a trainer.

Then it happened all over again.

A Facebook post, asking for

“Expressions of Interest,TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, only 5 days course and bargain price…”

Come on Adult Education Providers, lets play fair and give our clients the best possible training for their dollar. These people might be attracted to the short duration and low cost, but they deserve to receive the required skills and knowledge in order to further their careers in these fields.

Class of 2013-14, shit happens!


laughingAfter delivering Certificate II in Hospitality I can’t help but share some of the happenings, comments and conversations which occurred.

By day 3 I had a total of 3 bums on seats at 9am start time. 3 more straggle in, two don’t bother to say anything, the third simply says “I’m late”. One lady withdraws, she can’t handle the swearing, lack of respect and she cannot concentrate while the others are talking over me, she simply cannot concentrate.

Two of the students are a couple, they fight in class, I have to separate them like primary school kids.

I get a message from a student, he has some casual work today. They may have forgotten we are friends on Facebook and posts what is really going on.

The couple send another student a message saying they couldn’t get to class because of the rain. The male dropped by and explains the female has been vomiting all night and they had no credit to ring. The rest of the class laughed as he left, how could they send 3 texts with no credit and what was stopping him from staying.

RSA (responsible service of alcohol) some of the class had already done this short course, so I opened it up to the public as well. The highlight of my day was the student who volunteered information about drink spiking, claiming she had taken a particular drug before, therefore knew her drink had been spiked and how to handle it, but when she reported it and in fact the CCTV footage showed the incident she chose not to press charges. I wonder whether this person was one of her contacts?

RGS (responsible gaming services). The first day for our late enrolment. Turns up over half hour late, puts head on table, goes to lunch and doesn’t return.

Topic “Source and use information on the hospitality industry”. Somehow the discussion turns to how the bible mentions on two occasions how we shouldn’t eat prawns and that is amazing considering how many people are allergic to prawns….apparently it mentions people should not be gay as well….Hmmmm…..where is he going with this? It was very timely to begin discussion of equal opportunity employment. The couple also had another fight while I was out of the room, surprised? Not!

The young man, who refuses to wear his glasses, storms out of the room frustrated, but then returns and collects his books to go home and read. Winning!

Our late starter, both in the course and every day she has ever bothered to show up, actually sat with me until the end of the day and managed to get one assessment finished. More Winning!

Topic “Safe work practices” I ask the class to relate it to a workplace they may have worked on in the past. I find out one student has never had a job, hence the blank looks.

I have a consistently late student. When asked why I am told, I was here at 9, I was having a smoke. This same learner then asks when I will be organising practical placement for them. Well that would be when you can turn up here on time, I am not sending you somewhere else to have my reputation marred.

We go on an excursion to a club, have a tour of the kitchen and cellar, learn how to tap a beer barrel and fun stuff like that. Six attend, one can’t concentrate on anything, I can kind of see the smoke haze around the head, and one is too busy holding the phone to have learnt a thing.

Topic “Cultural diversity”. Two cracking comments come up today. When asked about different cultures that they may have grown up with housing commission is one of the responses. Comment of the day, “Can you believe we have to employ someone who has aids?” Yes!

Adults bring life experiences and knowledge to learning experiences, Malcolm Knowles

This week we have been to Club Mulwala for some function setting experience. I still feel like their Mother at times. One student, who is four years younger than me, needed to be pulled into line for playing the class clown. I needed to yell ‘Respect’ to get their attention when I had a staff member address the class about the different types of coffee stations which may be required within the club.

Overall the day was fun, or so I was told by my on again off again student. We still need to work on some of the things I consider to be basics, such as which side the entrée cutlery goes on and whose side plate is whose. I don’t think some of these people have ever sat at a table to dine, so I am not sure how they can bring these life experiences and knowledge to the class.

These are just some snippets of things whiched amused me over the six months I spent with this group, comment and let me know some of your experiences.

Class of 2013-14, an outline

A short reflection of the Certificate II in Hospitality course I facilitated recently.

I was really excited to have a full class and get into doing what I love, training others in a fantastic industry.

“Careful what you wish for.”

On orientation day we had 18 enrolments, all of them unemployed, some long term, some short term and some had never had a job. We explained the requirements of the course and filled in the paperwork. There were blank eyes, red eyes, wild eyes all looking back at me. Most of these people had to be here, they were just going through the motions in order to continue getting Centrelink payments. We had one late starter, taking the total number of enrolments to 19.

We begin all of our courses with Prepare for Study, this helps our learners to Learn to Learn, Get Tech Savvy, Get Study Smart and Reflect on their learning. We deliver this in our moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment).

On the first day of class I had some eager beavers all ready to start, it went reasonably well, they were required to log into the moodle once we had passwords set up and access things didn’t go too badly. Not everyone turned up, but we expected that.

The second day was awful, the students were late for class, disruptive, and I generally had trouble controlling their behaviour, and they seem to have no respect to others or myself. I walked into the EO’s office at the end of the day swearing and frustrated, she asked me if I was going to be able to cope? Bang head here I was unsure. What I did know is there was no way I was taking this lot offsite, alone, to a local bar where I had intended to deliver this course.

This was going to be tricky, I looked to Malcolm Knowles Adult Learning Principles  and out of the six I could only relate to one of them at this time  Adults are goal oriented the goal, get my name marked off the attendance list and continue to get paid.

After about a month I had a core group of 10 who attended class. They ranged in age from 17 to 37, and they all had dealt with their own shit in one way or another. LL&N  issues were a major problem, this was only Certificate II, so I didn’t care if they could spell it, as long as they could explain it.  My mission, engage them.

I flipped the classroom so they could do their assessments in class time. I encouraged them to use Facebook to contact each other. I allowed many cigarette breaks when attention was waning, I allowed time for general chit chat and eventually I earned their respect by not taking their crap.

There were many interesting conversations and comments, far too many to fit into one blog post. Have a look at Shit Happens for some of these.

Out of the 10, one got herself a job before it finished, the two most disruptive dropped in and out (eventually out, the others wereThank you relieved) and I have issued 6 certificates, and will issue the last one when practical placement is completed.

The most rewarding part was my card and bottle of Black Douglas scotch which they all put in for and presented to me. It touched my heart to know that they appreciated me and how much I had gone through with them to reach this point.


Give Me a Purpose!

E-learning, like technology is a wonderful thing. There are many and varied tools available. How do I choose what to use?

My mantra is not new, give me a purpose, I will then learn how to use them.

I find myself singing Give Me One Reason whenever I am faced with the challenge of exploring a new tool.

How many times have you heard of people who were terrible at maths at school, then go into a profession which they use simple calculations on a daily basis? After all those years of struggling it is finally put into context for them, they see a reason and they have no problem using it. They may be a chef portioning meals to budget, a hairdresser mixing colours or a builder ordering materials for a job.

So in 2013 I will continue to try and explore the tools which best work for my learners and I. However E-learning , like technology is so fast paced I may just find the tool I love only to find there is a newer and better version available yesterday.


You know you really have a problem with social networking when, without even realising it, you have turned on your computer and automatically opened facebook.

How? When? Why? has this happened to me?

Ironically I was the kind of person who shunned social media. Two years ago I went to visit my best friend interstate. To avoid travelling too far with miss 18 months, we stayed with my aunt the night before our flight. She took me to the computer and showed me how she had been playing Scrabble with friends on facebook. She and my dad had long ago been great rivals at Scrabble and she was encouraging me to teach him how to play her. While online she showed me how a cousin (who was housesitting and catsitting for us) was also online and they proceeded to chat. I was still not converted.

When we arrived at my besties I realised she was hooked. She would pop off for a few minutes and continue building whatever civilisation she was into at the time, chat to people and show me all the friends she had caught up with since we had been at school. I found it a bit antisocial seeing as I had travelled the width of the country, husband and child in tow, to spend time with her. I was still not converted.

One day I attended a PD day at the TAFE I was working for. A guest speaker on the day praised the benefits of facebook and twitter to the training community. It was a way to communicate with Gen Y and he spoke of setting up groups to encourage collaboration and networking amongst the students. He himself spent his train journey home in the evening tweeting from his phone. reluctantly I went home and set up my facebook account. I was still not converted.

Within a couple of days I was inundated with friend requests. I was selective and only chose to friend people I would sit down and have a coffee or a wine with in person. I started to understand the buzz Gen Y must get from collecting as many friends as they can. Not much had changed since I left school, life is still a popularity contest, no matter how we try to pretend it isn’t. My inbox was full of notifications, every time I checked my email I ended up back on facebook. I posted some snippets, wow,all these friends choose to like or comment on my posts(again feeling somewhat popular). I was converted.

Next I began my e-learning journey. Number 2 baby was 3 months old, number 1 almost 3 years. I was encouraged to experiment with Twitter, I took some time to warm to it, but before I knew it I was tweeting, retweeting and favouriting a a range of things. I liked how I knew the news as it happened, I could link to all sorts of blogs, and websites.  Now most days I have a quick look in the morning. Again, I was converted.

Today I have my facebook account, twitter (, google +, eleaders4hume ning, ynhservices ning, LinkedIn, I am writing this blog on wordpress and probably more I have joined and can’t even remember.

All this networking is great, but it doesn’t detract from my face to face relationships. This week I have had some long time friends around for drinks, I have spoken to a couple of my nearest and dearest on the phone, and today had  a dear friend drop in, without needing to phone/message/inbox, to just catch up for a gossip a coffee and a laugh. This was the best form of social networking I have experienced this month.