An instructor of any course, in any topic, is like the keystone of an arch: without the instructor, the entire course quickly falls apart, crumbling into a chaotic mess.
Given the importance of the instructor, you may think that all instructors are vetted, supported, and trained before entering the corporate training classroom, right?
Often times, the answer is no. The lack of support and training leads to some very ineffective mindsets and teaching practices that commonly happen in the corporate training classroom.
1. Acting Like the Classroom is a Stage
During a Train the Trainer observation, I asked an instructor what he liked about being an instructor. His answer came quickly and confidently: “It’s like being an actor! It’s like I am on stage!”
While it is good to have an instructor who presents as confident and energetic, it is not good to have an instructor who thinks teaching is nothing more than a spotlight performance. The role of the instructor is much more important than that of a performer. Your instructors’ main goal should always be to meet the needs of the students while meeting the learning objectives.
2. Little to no Engagement with Students
I have observed many instructors who fall into one of two categories: (1) Know it all types and (2) Fear of not knowing it all types. Interestingly, both of these types of instructors display the same behavior: low student engagement.
The “know it all” instructor is there to only impart his knowledge to the students. He or she may view the students as empty vessels, simply there to receive whatever he/she has to say about whatever they want to talk about. The communication is one way; the instructor expects the students to come in, sit down, and shut up.
The “know it all” instructor may also believe that the students simply do not need to know anything beyond what he or she knows, and therefore it is unnecessary to answer their questions or promote any type of engagement.
The “fear of not knowing it all” instructor operates from the irrational fear of not being able to answer all of the students’ questions. As an instructor of various topics and demographics, I can confidently say that it is impossible to have all the answers. For courses that I taught several times a year or over the course of many years, students still surprised me with questions I simply could not answer. Sometimes those odd questions threw me off, but I just remembered that student inquiry is a good thing. It means that they’re engaged and listening to what you’re saying.
3. Resistant to Change
In the classroom, like in all other aspects of your business, change is inevitable. Change is a signal of growth and innovation. However, I have experienced plenty of instructors who simply do not see the need to change any aspect of how they instruct.
Being an instructor is a dynamic position. A good instructor understands the importance of adapting to change. Adapting to change may mean a shift in how the material is presented or a revamp of an entire course to meet the needs of a changing demographic or adoption of a new technology.
In corporate training, it is especially important to adapt to change. Think of your training offerings as a reflection of your business—would you want to continue to use outdated practices in any other part of your business? Then why make that choice for your training?
Do you recognize any (or perhaps all) of these traits in your trainers? Please share your comments below. I look forward to reading about your own challenges in the corporate training world.