By Ann Margaret Kearney
In my 10 years of corporate training management and evaluating new trainers, I’ve learned a few things. This list is my advice for new trainers. It covers things you must do, things you’ll need to watch out for, and things you’ll need to remember to keep your sanity.
Things to do
Interacting with people is a big part of a trainer’s job, and you must keep that in mind before, during, and after a class. These tips will help you prepare for a class and do a good job during it.
- Sometimes you have to look at teaching as being an actor on stage, so you must know your lines and remember that the critics are not always kind.
- Don’t eat too much before teaching because this will temporarily reduce your energy level when you need it the most.
- Make sure your clothing is understated because some people are easily distracted.
- Have mints or gum to keep your breath fresh. There’s nothing worse than a helpful instructor that students can’t stand to have nearby.
- Monitor your classroom’s temperature. If it’s too cold, students will be uncomfortable. If it’s too hot, they will be nodding off.
- Have fun. This is an exciting profession, and you will learn much from your students.
- Above all, keep up-to-date on your material because students know when you are trying to pull the wool over their eyes.
Things to look out for
Some things in life you just have to accept. These training dilemmas are a few of them:
- Even if you repeat a point several times, many students will vehemently deny you ever covered the subject when they call your support group for help.
- There will be days you will be looked upon as a superstar, as a guru with all the answers. However, this can change quickly once the student knows how to do something herself.
- These three people will almost always be in your class: the know-it-all, the interrupter, and the “I need you to help me only” student. Learn how to handle these people and make them work in your favor.
- There will always be questions that steer you off course. Know where to draw the line so that you can cover the software the class is supposed to cover.
Things to remember
Perspective, perspective, perspective. Life is easier if you have it, and these maxims will help you keep it:
- You will never be able to please everyone.
- Students evaluate the trainer by their own level of understanding the software.
- Some students will give you small gifts of appreciation; others will not even acknowledge your existence once the class is over.
- Even after you’ve become a seasoned trainer, there will be times when you will get really nervous before a class.
- Someone in your class will always have a cousin, niece, uncle, sister-in-law, and so on, who runs a large department for Microsoft.
- As far as students are concerned, you are only as good as your last class.
What do you do when every little thing annoys you, when no student can do anything right, when you consider ditching the training profession for something else? Send us your tips for staying sane so we can share them with other TechRepublic readers.
Ann Margaret Kearney has over 10 years of experience in both classroom training and development as well as upper-level management of CompUSA Training centers, Caldor’s, and JCPenney’s stores. She has been a project manager of curriculum development for Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT, and developed a certification program for 1,200 contractors at William Raveis Homelink.