There are many different styles when it comes to classroom course delivery. Finding a trainer that suits your style can be a tremendous benefit. But beyond style, there is a bigger question. And it’s a question that can have serious implications for training companies, instructors, and students. It’s a question of substance.
While this may seem overly simplistic, I’m going to break down the entire community of trainers into two broad categories – good trainers and bad trainers. Now, that may seem a bit unfair. And I suppose there is always a level of subjectivity involved and there aren’t always neat boundaries. But I’ve been in the training industry long enough to recognize that as hurtful as this may be to trainers – there are some bad apples.
What isn’t always so obvious is what separates the good trainers from the bad ones. It isn’t always what you might expect. In the following paragraphs, I’ll give you some personal perspective on things that matter as well as a few things that matter less.
Dissecting the Training Experience
I have been blessed with an exceptional memory. I don’t say that to brag. I’d suggest that you could ask any individual that’s ever attended one of my courses and they would substantiate that claim. When I first started conducting training courses, I considered the classroom as a stage on which I would perform. The students were the audience that I needed to entertain, captivate, and ultimately teach. The slide deck was only a set of guide rails that kept us on track. Every concept or definition had an illustration, every question brought a real-world example, every spoken word was carefully chosen and rehearsed. I taught every class a hundred times in my mind before I spoke a word in the classroom. My goal was to deliver a flawless experience that students wouldn’t forget.
I never focused on teaching to the exams. I always believed that if I taught the content and taught it well, that it would drive exceptional student results. Throughout my classroom training experience, this has held true. But I’ve found that teaching the content always requires finding an ability to relate to the learners, often through an example, a story, a shared experience, or an exercise. You succeed when you find the way a student learns comfortably and engage them in that way.
Adapting to your audience requires constant monitoring and management of the environment. The classroom is often a blend of introverts, who will avoid engaging at nearly any cost, and extraverts, who risk dominating the classroom. If you don’t adapt your style dynamically to the different learning styles, you’ll leave some portion of your class without the requisite knowledge that you, as an instructor, as supposed to leave with them.
The atmosphere the instructor creates is one of the most important elements of the classroom experience. A good teacher fosters communication, collaboration, and learning. Students learn more when they are engaged in the course; when they feel they are part of the learning and not just someone filling a seat.
So – what divides the good from the bad? Here’s a quick list of good attributes. Comment and tell me what you’d add.
- Excellent communicators
- Good classroom management
- Ability to involve students in the learning experience
- Ability to adapt to varied learning styles
- Viewed as credible or authoritative (avoid the liars who claim to be experts on everything)
- Well-prepared (see my blog about when things go wrong)
- Ability to think fast on your feet
- Ability to maintain student interest
- Doesn’t simply read slides (I hate that!)