By Ashraf Al Shafaki
Students come to the training each having his or her own needs. Their needs are divided into two categories: educational and non-educational needs. Needs may vary from one student to the other.
As for educational needs, one student may need to learn something in order to be able to apply it at work. Another might need to learn to be able to pass a certification exam. Yet another might need to learn for the love of exploring and learning new things and so on.
For the student that needs to learn in order to use what he or she has learnt at work, the trainer should concentrate on practical ready made solutions that solve common problems. For that who needs to learn to pass a certification exam, the trainer should focus on the concepts and common exam questions. As for that which needs to learn for the pleasure of learning new things, the trainer should focus on exciting parts of the subject and provide lots of exploratory exercises and assignments.
As for the non-educational needs of students, they are not less important than the educational ones. In fact, one should pay particular attention to such needs because they often go unnoticed while they do play a critical role in how well the training goes on. For instance, one student may have a strong need for recognition, another might need to appear superior to others, still another might like to boss around and so on. Understanding such needs and accommodating them can spell the difference between a smoothly running training course and one with a lot of bumps and headache. Ignoring the student that needs recognition might lead him or her to go into side-talks during the lecture. Suppressing the student that likes to show off his superior abilities might lead him or her to repeatedly challenge his or her fellow students or even challenge the trainer himself/herself whenever a concept or piece of information was mentioned thus hindering the learning process.
A competent instructor might ask a student who needs to be bossy or that who needs to appear superior to explain some concepts to his or her colleagues. By fulfilling student needs in such a positive way, not only will the class be saved from negative effects on the course, but the learning process itself may even be enhanced by using such student needs in a positive way for the benefit of the class. A further positive way to use such student needs would be to use their need for showing off as a means of motivating them to perform better on the course. One additional need can be the need for friends and their acceptance. Such need can be used by the trainer to make the student with such a need help out his colleagues in various ways within the learning process such as by supplying them with software or additional course material ... etc.
For a trainer to become competent enough to deliver a smooth and effective course, he or she must understand both the educational and non-educational needs of his or her students and fulfill such needs in a way that benefits students and enhances the overall learning process.
The leader student is usually a single student in a class. This student is generally characterized by a higher degree of knowledge than the rest of the class. The colleagues of the leader student see him or her as more clever and more knowledgeable. Often the rest of the class respect the viewpoints of the leader student.
As a trainer, in order to swing the class in the direction of your choice, focus on controlling the mind of the leader student. If you manage to make the leader student maintain a desired position, hold a certain viewpoint or go for a specific choice then it is highly probable that the rest of the class will follow willingly. Try not to have the views of the leader student clash with yours since this will make you loose a lot of credibility with the rest of the class.
A trainer must strive at all times to treat all students equally not only in terms of grading their quiz sheets or providing them with chances to participate and ask during a training session but even in terms of distributing eye contact with each and every student in as equal a manner as possible.
During a training session, the trainer should move his eyes in a sweeping-like movement over the faces of the trainees. He should divide his attention on the trainees trying as much as possible to give trainees equal shares of eye contact.
Stretching a white space of silence can do wonders for you as a trainer. A trainer that is well in control of the class and the audience is able to master the art of using a pause to galvanize the audience and make them stretch out their antennas in an attempt to grasp every drop of info, every gesture and every word the trainer is about to say after the moment of silence which the experienced trainer extends and stretch for the exact right amount of time, not more nor less, in order to create the best effect he/she wants on the audience. You can gain or regain control of the class and the audience by skillfully manipulating the silent pause technique.
Inter-student bonds might be created along a training course. A smart trainer should work so as to improve the building of such positive bonds and set the learning environment so as not to allow the rise of any negative repulsive relationships between students.
Listen to the opinionated student until the end. Never argue with an opinionated student. After listening till the end, present fact based proof to your opinionated student showing him that he was not correct.