Things to Avoid when Dealing with Difficult Learners
On the back of our recent blog about what difficult learners are. We wanted to discuss some things you should avoid doing when dealing with them. This is to ensure that the learning and teaching process runs smoothly for everyone. So here are a few tips you can do.
Excessive professional or personal criticism
Try and avoid expressing excessive professional or personal criticism, as it won’t be exactly helpful to criticise learners who are showing challenging behaviour. Consider the potential cause of the behaviours. Would criticism really help at this moment? Should it be better or easier if you sat them down after the session to find out how you can help and what is really going on with them?
Counteraggression or arguing
If you’re dealing with a learner who is showing aggressive behaviour, any form of counter-aggression from you, (whether it’s verbal or in the way you’re using body language) will not be received in a positive light. Try not to lose your cool, when you let learners get under your skin this can be a trigger for aggression. Even if this is an eye roll, you become less effective. When difficult learners know they can push your buttons to get a rise, they will do it at every stop. Keep in mind that arguing will not solve the issue. Instead, ask the individual what they want to do and offer support to them. Remember, engage but don’t confront.
Patronising or ‘talking down’ to
Most, if not all people don’t respond well to being patronised. Whether this is in a professional or private setting. As we mentioned in the previous blog, you’re the figure of authority. However, any respect given will quickly dwindle away if you’re using patronising language when you’re addressing your learners.
Don’t take it personally
It’s unlikely that a learner will have a problem with you personally. Don’t forget about your own emotional well-being as it’s also important! You’re not responsible for their behaviours or actions. Their behaviour is not within your control and it doesn’t reflect on your own professional skills as a trainer, tutor or assessor. All you can do is manage the situation to the best of your ability, don’t aggravate it. However, you can’t be expected to change the way someone thinks.
Have a positive mindset
Try and have a positive mindset towards it. Every day is a new day. They need to know that they have a clean slate each day and you do as well. So you can come to the session from a different angle with a new perspective. Maybe think about what can you do better to ensure the session is going smoothly. At the end of the day when you leave you need to leave that in the classroom, don’t take it home, you don’t need to stew on it either. Leave it at the door and move on. Then they know you don’t hold a grudge either.
Even if you haven’t experienced a difficult learner still knowing what to do is extremely helpful. This will allow you to react to the situation in the best way possible!