Thursday, March 24, 2016

How do you engage the "forced" learner?

 Author:  Ellen V. Platton, Learning & Talent Development Professional

How do you engage the "forced" learner? 

How do you engage the "forced" learner? We've all had the adult in the classroom who has been "forced" to attend our training.  Either the training was "recommended" or the course was a mandatory requirement.  Regardless, she/he does not want to be in our classroom.  This person feels out of place, does not say much and their body language sends the message that she/he is not interested.  As the trainer, how do you engage this learner without disrupting the class? 

What has worked for me has been to encourage conversation.  Telling stories, referencing current events, asking questions, and using analogies are all informal ways that have led to classroom conversation. Once one person speaks, before long a number of people are engaged in a conversation, even the "forced" learner.  The "forced" learner has become interested and involved.  This person's body language now sends a different message.  Sometimes quoting a line to a popular show, movie or song (where appropriate) has allowed the learner to feel safe enough to get involved because I've now become relatable.  Asking questions is a sure way to start a conversation:  Has anyone ever experienced a similar situation?  Can anyone tell me a time when....?  How would you have....?...Who has an example of.....?  What worked?  Does anyone......?  Why do you think...?  Once the learner can relate and has an opportunity to share their story, she/he eases into the conversation. Telling stories, using current events, and analogies have worked for me.  
As trainers, we want to engage the learner while at the same time provide valuable information.  Everyone has something to say, has a question to ask, or just needs a bit of guidance.  Most learners want to tell their story but may need to first feel comfortable and secure in their surroundings.  When someone enters our classroom, they may initially feel out of place.  I've described what has worked for me. 

How do you engage the "forced" learner?  Please comment or share your story. 

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