I wanted to take a moment to be frank. In my years as a trainer there are a few things that I’ve encountered that really frustrate me. I wanted to take this opportunity to get a few of these off my chest, but before I do I just want to let everyone know reading this that it Isn’t a reflection on my past or current students. These have all come from my own observations while teaching and from stories my students have shared during class time.
Number one: “I just want to ask a stupid question….” is something I’ve heard nearly every time that I’ve commenced a new course. Consistently, at least one or two people believe that the question they’ve been keeping inside is one that they feel is “stupid” and that the answer is something they should already know. Let me try and squash this once and for all; when there is a genuine desire for knowledge, there is no such thing as a stupid question. Period.
If you’re paying enough attention to me when I’m teaching and that sparks a question, I can almost guarantee that someone else in the class has that same question but may feel silly or too shy to ask. It may also mean that I’ve taken your assumed knowledge for granted, meaning that I need to add something to my training or think of a better way to explain a concept or topic. As a trainer, I’m continuously striving to improve my student’s knowledge and understanding and I relish in the opportunity to answer your questions. I find it’s often the trickier questions are better, as it pushes me to learn more and grow my own knowledge.
Number two: similar to the first point, “I’m stupid because I don’t know ‘X’…” where ‘X’ is either ‘computers’ or some other technology. People are far too harsh on themselves when it comes to not knowing everything. I’d like to share a little story about my mechanic; one day when I went to collect my car, he had the hood up and was explaining to me what work he had done on it. I chatted a bit about my work saying that my hands didn’t get as dirty as his did, he replied with “… yeah, but I’m stupid because I don’t know how to use computers.” This comment stuck me and I replied with “I don’t know anything about what goes on under here…” as I gesture to the stuff under my car’s bonnet “… but that doesn’t make me stupid.”
My point is; everyone’s good at something and no one is good at everything. When you come to class to learn about computers, or perhaps take one of my online courses, it’s not because you’re stupid. It’s because you have a want or a need to better yourself.
Number three: this one is a bit harder to define because it’s based on experiences that students have shared with me over time, but I guess that I can relate it back to when I was in high school, and my ‘trainers’ were the ‘teachers’ of my classes. This is related to my first two point and might be the root of some of these gripes actually. It’s the “you should already know this” or “I can’t be bothered to teach you more than is minimally required” mentalities that some ‘educators’ seem to have.
As a trainer, it’s my job to impart my knowledge onto my students and to train them to get better at using computers. It is not to belittle or demean my students for not knowing something. It really butters my biscuits when I hear people who have had negative experiences with learning when the problem was to do with the trainer. I LOVE training people how to use computers, and the most rewarding part of the experience for me is when I see the confidence gained by my students in using the programs and hardware we’ve been working on.
The other thing that feeds my soul as a trainer is the wonderful comments I receive as feedback at the end of the courses I teach. Here are a few snippets of feedback that I have collected that I wanted to share, names have been removed but I have permission to use them;
“… I feel much more confident about applying for jobs now and through your teaching methods, have rediscovered the joy of learning…” -J
”Paul is an extraordinary teacher, he is very informative… My computer skills have improved a great deal and I’m not scared to use and navigate my way around the computer…” -H
“Using what I learnt in class will improve and shorten my work load… Thanks you soooo much Paul, I have really enjoyed the course…” -N
I don’t share this just to toot my own horn (but it sure does make me feel good) but to help remind myself that the way I teach, my philosophies and principles, are reflected in my students and in their learning outcomes.
I am encouraged by the feedback and know that I am a good teacher and that I am on the right path to achieve my ultimate goal, which is; “To provide training for everyone”, and I really do mean everyone. I have learnt that the people that I enjoy training most are the ones that don’t think they can be taught or that think they are too old, or can’t learn because English is not their first or even second language. You are my people, and I hope to create the best online and in person training that I can personally create. That is my goal, my aim, my mission statement.
Thanks to everyone who has made it this far in my rant, I can stop being frank now and return to being Paul. 😛
I felt that I needed to get these things off my chest, but I’ll never stop enforcing these ideals to my current and future students. I believe it’s soo import for everyone considering about learning something new to keep in mind the things I’m going to summarise now;
- “There is no such thing as a stupid question!” If you feel like your question is “Stupid” and you going to include that when you ask it, try just changing it to “I just want to know something…?” or “One question I have is….?”
- “You are NOT stupid because you don’t know something!” We are all her on this planet to, hopefully, become better people. This is a noble pursuit and should not be sneered at.
- “Your trainer/ teacher/ instructor/ etc, is there to teach you, if they are not able to teach you, that’s their failing, not yours.” I think that’s a good way to sum up my third gripe listed above, I honestly don’t want to bad mouth other trainers but to just makes me mad when I hear those type of stories from my students. I had frustrations when I was a kid being taught things by my father, but that a topic for another time. 🙂
Leave a comment below of a positive or negative training experience you’ve had in the past.
That all folks! Thanks again for reading this long ramble from me. I’m going to do my best to continue getting these out every Monday so stay tuned.