There’s always one. One person who comes to you before or after class and says “Why are we here? What is the point of this class?” Heaven forbid this person blurts this out in the middle of class. If it’s not a class that you are completely sold on, or perhaps something that you’re not completely qualified to teach (a math teacher in a science class, for example), you may not have a direct answer quick at the ready. You might be caught off-guard with the question and be sitting there saying “Uhhhh… Ummmm….”
How do you deal with that? How do you create motivation in your students, be it for a required class in school or a business training that the entire company must attend? Teachers and trainers alike struggle to answer this question, and many don’t come up with a simple answer. The bad news is, there is no simple answer. The good news is, there are plenty of things you can do to generate motivation in your students, it just takes some creativity and prep work ahead of time.
We talked about motivation a while back in a previous blog post: “Motivation is Key to Learning“. There are mountains of evidence (not to mention personal experience of any trainer or teacher) on why motivation is important to the success of a class. I found an interesting (albeit somewhat outdated but still relevant) article on Stanford’s website about Motivation and how one can create it. For any class, relevance to the audience is key. Make the learning objectives personal for them and show them how the material can help them succeed, or where they might need to remember this in the future.
In a business setting, most likely the trainees are directed to attend the training as part of their jobs. This leads to some inherent motivation, but not necessarily because they want to be there. You, as a trainer and subject matter expert, need to tell them why this information is necessary for the completion of their jobs. It may even be necessary for the survival of the company – take SOX compliance or customer privacy training as examples. This information should also be echoed by management. They may not be excited about being in training, but you can help by making the training more fun. Use some humor, pass out candy or run some interesting exercises. Ice breakers and impromptu skits are a good way to keep the energy going in the room.
Whatever you do, any trainer or teacher will tell you that motivation is essential, otherwise there is no point in anyone wasting their time. This motivation will help the students engage in your materials, and they might even enjoy the time they spend in the classroom, learning new things.
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