Every trainer will come across that “one” student.
A student who will challenge the trainer either directly or indirectly and how you as a trainer respond to this will set the tone for the rest of the course. We are not talking about the overly keen student is wants to participate fully and then some.
So who is that “one” student? It can be:
- A participant who believes they know more than you (and they may well do but for whatever reason they are doing the course)
- Someone who does not want to be there and is there under duress
- Someone who thinks that they should direct how the course should be done
- Someone who devalues the trainer’s time and expertise as a way of justifying their poor behaviour
- Someone who tries to get other participants on board with their view so they don’t look bad.
- Someone who tells you the office told them, they would complete all assessments for this qualification in some unrealistically short time.
- Someone who directs your training
An experienced trainer will quietly sigh at the first challenge. And it is important to stand your ground and run your plan (but stay flexible enough to the cohort).
I table things early and recognise existing knowledge in the room. I also establish expectation based on the course guide and set those expectations up for the day that this is what we will be doing.
As for people who don’t want to be in training, I table that up also. “I realise some of you may not want to me in here today and this is a requirement of your employer. Please take that up withy our employer and make the day as engaging as possible for me and others. It is something that just has to be done and we may as well enjoy it”, and I make particular eye contact with those I suspect this is the case with.
Should someone be devaluing your knowledge, experience and being poorly behaved with attitude and participation (and there is a difference when someone is questioning – a very definite difference), I will challenge them back. And state something along the lines of “my truth may be different to your truth based on our experiences. However, this is the material I am covering – I would like to deliver it without interruption – would you mind if I ask for your clarification and input at the end. Agreed”? And at the end tell I them that you speak to them during the break to get their input and deny them an audience and oddly they rarely want to speak to me.
When that “one” student is trying to rally other students it is usually when they know they have gone too far or they need the feeling of back-up. There is little you can do about this but if you have the connection with the student that is being targeted to “join” the “one” student you could have a chat during the breaks and just point out they are their own person. Having said that, if you have a group that takes on a group mentality and I have experienced this when I have had low socio-economic groups, I table it up. And go through all the types and point out they have taken on a group mentality and if they wish to leave, leave and deal with those consequences or if they wish to stay, stay and I just deliver the training as per my plan.
I ask for all communications with enrolments to be cc’d to me and I can rebut claims of this would all be done in an unrealistic timeframe. Sometimes a participant will say Jane from XYZ Training said it would be done – in which case I invite them to call Jane back because that has never been the case and I am quite certain Jane is aware of course requirements.
Aa for someone directing it – I will joke with them, you should do my job at some point. I resist their direction and if they persist I will tell them “I am running a plan here, thanks for the input but trust me, I’ve got this”.
Rest assured you will get that “one” student. But the training room is yours to run and you have a responsibility to yourself, other students and do the course content to deliver it in a way that is workable, safe and enjoyable for all.