In this article, I’m going to share a personal account of how being enthusiastic worked in my favour over the long run, in my earlier days of training.
In 2009, when I was very new to training, I was placed alone in a class of 40, with no main trainer to model nor assistant trainer to help me out. It was a 6 month Study Skills Program spread out once every week. The students I was training were under the “At-Risk” Program. An “At Risk” class represents students who are at risk of falling out of school, due to a variety of issues such as family issues and juvenile delinquency.
The first day, I stood in front of the class, and for the first few minutes, I realised symptoms of nervousness were starting to kick in. I had many pause fillers to fill up my awkward silences and I found myself swallowing a lot. In order to hide my nervousness, I moved around a lot, and kept referring to my training materials to see what else I could do to drag the time once I was finished with the lesson objectives. The class of Secondary 3 (15 year olds) was smiling and nodding their heads as I talked, and the students seemed to be encouraging me. It was a warm relief, to see that. But that changed very quickly.
I soon realised that the students were not going to be quiet as they were on the first lesson. They seemed to get progressively worse. They never seemed to care about the class or what was being taught. As I started “teaching” the class, none of the students were looking at me. They were either playing with their phones or engaged in chatter with their friends. In some ways, I was ‘invisible’ to them.
This went on for a few weeks. Undeterred, I kept going at it. Every week, I would plan my lessons, think of creative ways to engage the entire class, understand their needs and requirements as well as what excited or bored them. In some instances, I would involve the class in activities that required them to be physically active. Begrudgingly, they would comply. As an educator, I knew it was important to set my standards high and ensure I develop and empower the students accordingly.
As the weeks progressed, I noticed students approaching me on an individual basis, asking me for feedback, ideas on how they could better themselves academically. And with every student that approached me, I shared with them everything I knew to help them.
Slowly, I started noticing that more and more students started approaching me, sometimes in groups. And even in classes, I had a better participation and response. The students, by the sixth session, wanted to work harder. It became a case of, they ‘wanted to please me and make me proud’. They saw my sincerity and enthusiasm over the weeks, and they started to perform. Over the final month of our workshop, these students put in an enormous amount of effort. And on our final day of the workshop, they gave me many individual letters all decorated and designed beautifully, expressing their appreciation and thanks. Appreciation cards may not seem like much, but it meant the world to me and I stored them in my appreciation jar.
There are numerous techniques to get students to perform, but nothing is more effective than simply being enthusiastic yourself. When you show that you really care about something and that it means a lot to you, even the most challenging of individuals will get on board and help you achieve your goal that you have in mind.
In the next post, I will touch on the next quality all educators will benefit from: Adventure!