A day in the life of a trainer

When's the last time you looked at what's on your trainers' plates? Are you inadvertently overloading them? Check out Schoun Regan's take on a stressed-out trainer, and see whether you have an instructor that fits this picture.

The alarm goes off. It's 5:45 A.M. She rolls over and the Excel manual falls to the floor. Just 10 more minutes, PLEASE! Coming back to life slowly, she embarks on the morning routine of rejuvenation. Today she is an Excel expert and ready to try on her new title. Her kids are still sleeping as she enjoys her coffee, shower, and a moment of utter peace, in that order. She wakes her kids to begin another lazy summer day. They are oblivious to her lack of decent rest, and she prefers to keep it that way. After getting them dressed, making breakfast, and overseeing the ever-important teeth brushing, she drops them off at day care.

Get to work
Traffic is horrible and she arrives at work 15 minutes late. Heading for the coffee machine, she pumps that critical second cup into her veins. She strolls into the instructors’ office, only to find Steve is out sick and Carol is filling in for him, again. Her cubicle is littered with those awful Internet jokes that someone printed out.

Last-minute preparations
Sitting down, she opens the Excel manual to the place she last remembers from the night before. Trying hard to concentrate over the Loud Obnoxious Instructor Who Needs A Breath Mint, she fills her brain with as much Excel as it can handle. She takes a moment to read the memo from the office manager concerning personal phone calls. Why can’t office managers come preinstalled with common sense? A glance at the clock tells her it's her turn at the reception area for Meet and Greet.

They’re here…
With plenty of novice classes today, there's no shortage of new students. She directs them to the coffee machine and their classrooms with cheerfulness and a smile. The only dark point is her contact with the technical instructor who thinks his TCP/IP doesn’t stink. She wonders if being so knowledgeable about networking software always leaves people in a bad mood.

Let’s get started
Class time rolls around. She greets her students and begins her very first Excel class. She’s all smiles and confidence on the outside, but there’s terror on the inside. During the morning session, she has a know-it-all who wants to show the other students how much he knows. She has to use all her people skills to keep this guy in line. Finally, lunchtime (and study time) arrives, but before she can get to the classroom door, a student requests some additional help. She saw him playing solitaire earlier but decides not to scold him and does her best to bring him up to speed. After 30 minutes, she finally grabs a bite to eat. She calls the day care to check on her children and crams more Excel into her brain before returning to class for the afternoon session.

Halfway there
The power goes off in the building for a brief moment, and several students seem to have forgotten what deodorant is. She gets stuck only once, on protecting cells and locking cells, but everything turns out fine. The afternoon drags on, and she finishes with a bang by teaching her students to create some cool 3-D charts. As the students fill out their evaluation forms, she smiles inside, adding yet another peg on her confidence board. Cleaning up the room, she browses through the evaluations. The guy who played solitaire rated her average. Jerk. It isn't the first time and it won’t be the last.

Drained, she shuffles back to the instructors’ office. She grabs her purse and the QuarkXPress manual, yet another new class to learn. She’s ready to walk out the door when you walk in to ask her if she can work a double next week because the office manager messed up the schedule. Do her a favor. Don't do it. You take the class. She deserves some time to slow down.

Do your job
Part of your job should be to recognize when your instructors need a breather. Another job duty is to give it to them when they need it. You'd expect the same if you were in their shoes.

Schoun Regan is a consultant to training firms and travels across North America educating people for Complete Mac Seminars. If you'd like to comment on this article, or share your favorite “day in the life of a trainer” story, write to Schoun .

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