How wrong I was! After teaching for over 20 years I have finally encountered one of my most difficult students. As we get older, we learn more and more about the world around us. While some of us choose to expand our knowledge and minds, there are some among us that close their minds to a very narrow pathway that makes it especially difficult to get through to. Here is my adventure of the last couple of weeks.
As I start each training session I introduce them to the business by giving them a brief description of what it is that we do. I have them fill out some paperwork and then have them sit down to do a read through of our training manual. That is the easy part, of course. Once they have completed that task, I ask them for questions. I am hoping at this very early stage that they have some, but this time I came across one that did not have a single question! Wow! How amazing! I guess the class is over, right? I jest, of course!
I go over some of the very basic information that is imperative to the success of their tenure with our company and then get into the section that most all of our employees make the most errors on. Now the questions begin, but these are questions that are overlooking the simplicity of the task and rather seeking a reason to challenge the mechanics of why this is needed in the first place. Ok, I get it. So I proceed to explain why it is done, why it is vital to their success and that this be completely accurately. While failures happen, some errors can be job terminating and this is not an outcome that is preferable to either one of us. I ask that they go home, reread the manual more thoroughly and come back tomorrow prepared with some questions for me. This is day one.
The next day arrives and there are no questions because…they were too tired to bother to do the assignment that they were given! What drive, right? Does this person really want this position or just wasting everyone’s time? Given that, we pick up at the place that we left off at the day prior and it’s as though yesterday never happened. Under normal circumstances, this person would be released since it seems obvious that they are just not very interested in the position, but there are special circumstances surrounding this person’s employ so I must push through it. At the end of day two, a determination is made to have this person take the entire next day off to review the material and come in with questions. This should be great and no excuses for why this task isn’t competed. In a conference call, I discuss the progress of the training and then I’m told that older candidates are sometimes a little slower to grasp the information. Now that may be true in some cases, but I’m not looking at your age when I’m training you. I’m looking at the level of adaptation, understanding and drive.
Day three rolls around and while they say that there are no stupid questions, there are, especially if you’re expecting someone else to do the work for you! My trainee comes in with questions that are asked and answered in the manual. Cute! Let’s quiz the teacher, but not really help me to understand the material necessary to make me successful, but I’ll play along! Let me pause here by saying that reviews of my teaching style have been that I’m tough, but fair. My position is that I want you to avoid the mistakes that others have made and be the best that you can be, but you have to be motivated and not expect me to always be there to hold your hand. Training courses generally last 3 to five days, by the way and we’re at the halfway point. Close to lunchtime my trainee informs me that they’ll be leaving quite early. I have no issue with that since there is no real rush or time limit to get them through the training process. Yay me! The kicker is that right after informing me of their early departure, they take an hour lunch. I guess I’m just a different person. I would have foregone the lunch break since I was leaving early anyway and maybe just taken a 15 or 30 minute one. Do people really take an hour break for five hours of work? This one did. Great! Can you see my contempt yet? I’m really trying not to, but this is just not standard for any trainee. Notice how not much was even accomplished for the day and we’re going into day four.
It’s Friday and I have a lot for the trainee to do. They should be well rested and prepared for the day, but this once makes sure not to come in a minute earlier but rather a minute late. Petty, right? Yeah, I know but they sit in their car and watch the clock. They are here earlier than that, but won’t get out of their car until “it’s time to”. Sigh. Oh well, pushing ahead. It’s decided that we’re going to give this trainee a three day weekend. I have some stuff to do, I’m off one of the normal training days, and I needed a break for my responsibilities to get accomplished. One thing the trainee can absolutely do and well is talk. They do this a lot. I think it impairs their ability to listen, but that’s just my observation. Did I tell you that they have difficulty hearing: selectively, but an impairment that is quite obvious. This has been one of the better days of training. I think that maybe some of this is starting to sink in. Maybe over the extended break they’ll study up and come in on Tuesday ready to go!
Oh Tuesday, why have you forsaken me? Groundhog Day has arrived and I can’t begin to tell you how many times that I have had to repeat myself. One would think that at this point you would have it down but I think my student is intentionally trying to ignore me. The hearing impairment has become much more pronounced causing much more repetition. I refuse to give up, but I’m starting to understand why teachers teach what’s on the test and nothing else. I still refuse to take that approach, at least not yet. I am the rebel, right? At this point, I am finding myself repeating that this is in the training manual. I know that I shouldn’t do that, but I’m starting to lose my grip on reality with this one! Test day is on Thursday so I have been reminding them of this repeatedly and that they really need to study, not just tell me that they did.
I hope that this Wednesday is better than the rest of the days have been, but that’s just my positive attitude! After the crazy rain storm that blew in I knew that it was going to be a fantastic day, trainee be damned! The reality of it is this; I am actually going page by page of the manual because if I don’t I fear that this one will say that we didn’t go over something. Ugh, I am teaching to take the test! So much for being the rebel! Not sure what’s up with my trainee today, but they seem much more confrontational than they have been. I can appreciate reciprocal questions, but you can’t ask a reciprocal question and then actually want the answer to it and then get upset when you’re given the answer. The struggle is SO real! I need a drink and I’m not a drinker!
Ah, test day has arrived! I am hoping, no, praying for that my trainee passes the test. It’s a fairly simple test if you did your homework and usually doesn’t take more than an hour to complete. It’s just 50 questions. An hour and forty-five minutes I receive the completed test. Ok, there’s no time limit on it, so honestly they could have taken all day. Since it’s now so close to lunchtime, I send them off to lunch again only to realize that it’s Thursday again and this trainee has to leave early again. I wonder how this is going to work when they actually have to be relied upon to be at work for the entire day. Whatever, that’s not my concern right now. The test is.
Overall, not too bad; seven out of fifty wrong with some others that weren’t wrong but came across as very abrupt. Not a multiple choice test. We go over the ones they got wrong and why as to make sure that there’s a clear understanding. Anything more than 5 wrong warrants the retaking of the test, so we will be doing this again Friday, but they better get them all correct especially since now they know all of the answers!
Oh how I love you Friday! Today is the last day of the longest training class I’ve had to teach with this curriculum and this company. Training should have ended on Tuesday but we’re here now, so let’s do this! First thing is to retake the test and an hour and thirty minutes it’s done. Whew! At least this time they get them all right. I think that there may have been a serious problem if they didn’t, but who knows. Tomorrow will be their first day solo; I expect to be called with questions. It’s normal for the newbies to call when they get stuck. My only concern is that this one won’t be able to communicate enough to get the right answer, but we shall see. I just hope that the usefulness of this person is fully appreciated to warrant the bending over backwards to appease them.
I’ll update you all later!