I have been called a Type A individual. Some of my friends are Type B. I kid my wife that she is “un-type-able.” What type are you? Some scholars look at psychosocial variables and classify folks as “types” subcategorized in “numerical” order. Non-academics, too often, resort to stereotyping and name-calling: dominators, whiners, disturbers, aggressors, and other, more colourful, not so good, bad, and ugly terms. I tire of navigating my way through such terminology and I have always wondered how useful these theories and typecasts are to instructors wanting to manage the classroom environment in the most positive way.
Yes, Forrest Gump’s mama was correct in saying “life is a like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” But does it really serve a purpose to classify the sweets – in our case, students – in terms of their degree of emulsification, consistency, or liquidity?
Whether you’re teaching children (striving to be adults) or adults (striving to remain children), the principles of learning are the same.
Students of every cast and mold are looking for opportunities to participate in relevant experiences that benefit their progress and enhance their self-worth. Of course, many arrive at your doorstep with difficult, inattentive, or disruptive behaviour. That’s your challenge but it is not a hard one to overcome.
Expert facilitators will manage the climate for learning with thought-provoking scenarios and case-studies, question-and-answer sessions, and participatory group work. These facilitators have learned to focus on the students’ performance, not their personal qualities. They avoid elaborate lecturing and present a training environment where learners have chances to question, experiment and think.
A smile, along with a positive outlook, and a little enthusiasm go a long way in dealing with any difficult situations and turn learners into willing participants.