First of all, what is behaviour? It is technically defined as the way in which a living organisms interacts with the environment and others to a particular response. In teaching terms we refer to it as the way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others. This definition is perhaps more appropriate and when we look at behaviour management we tend to overlook positive behaviour, but this is an equally, if not more important aspect.
Adult learners don't tend to play up or engage in silly or persistent problems, often trying to test the teacher. Instead their behaviours are usually a result of the baggage they enter the classroom with, perhaps a long day at work, using up valuable holiday for the course, stress or anxiety in re-engaging with learning and of course al the typical problems an adult, particularly a parent will experience.
1) The injured individual was doing the training, obviously resentful of the reactive as opposed to proactive approach to this incident the company had taken. He also took it upon himself to become the story teller, interrupting at every possible opportunity.
2) They were not consulted at any stage of the project.
3) They were convinced the Fire Service would do this job and saw no value in doing it themselves.
4) the training was to be during their night shift, the team would still be on call for baggage issues.
5) And finally a total lack of learning space.
This all manifested itself into a bit of a teaching nightmare and a very tough audience to engage. So how did I over come these problems? I included the injured person at all times, drawing on his experience, draining him of stories and using them when and where I wanted. This worked, whether he got bored of speaking or knew I was going to ask him anyway he became a learner. The team were annoyed at not being consulted, this is a very difficult place to a private training company, on the one hand I can sympathise with my learners but on the other hand I'm being paid to deliver what the company wants. This manifested as child like sulking behaviour, short answers and a quiet classroom. This was difficult to overcome, I had to build up from their level and approach from the point of view of their safety, that the whole project is for them. It is worth noting that there is a strong them and us culture at the moment at this location due to ongoing large re structuring.
Its quite difficult to ensure end users understand the underlying principles and legislation that mean they have a duty to look after there selves and team, which may actually include rescue. Its is a common theme that people assume the Fire Service will do that or the Ambulance Service will do this, the reality is yes, but not always and how long will it take etc. As a serving Firefighter it can be quite hard to get this across without devaluing either party. It can be a volatile subject, and in this case provoked lengthy discussion. If I had this group for longer we could explore response times and perhaps what kit and training do their local emergency response have available. In this example I managed to convince some but not others.
Night shift, I dread that word when a training request comes in, learners are either totally and utterly exhausted or, particularly younger learners are pumped full of caffeine, sports drinks, chocolate etc. There is a lot in the media regarding this subject, particularly school learners having a liquid breakfast of sports drinks. How on earth do we tackle this, well its open for comment, I have tried a number of methods, structured breaks, offering to buy refreshments at breaks to control what they eat/drink as well as removing traditional café breaks all together. However much I try these drinks find their ways into my classroom and into the systems of my learners. Its very difficult to ban or tell off adult learners for dietary issues. Its main effect on the behaviour of learners seems to be cognitive ability and switching off, I try to overcome this by ensuring I'm watching these learners closely, monitoring their intake and then regulating the session to ensure they burn off excess energy when appropriate or calm down when hyper active.
Our company ethos is to always try to deliver in the workplace, this adds such value and realism to any training session, however these weird and wonderful sites are never equipped with training rooms. Some are seeing the value in it and it is becoming more common but more often or not I deliver in dark cramped meeting rooms or rest areas with a myriad of distractions. It is very difficult to promote good behaviour in awkward learning environments and remains a constant struggle. Where possible I move around and change venues to ensure my learners don't end up with any cabin fever!
On the whole adult learners manage their own behaviour well, to date I have never had to talk to an adult learner about their behaviour or been confronted with any behavioural issues that have caused me concern. I would suggest that Adults present barriers to learning as opposed to behavioural issues and that it is essential for the teacher to empathise and relate to their group of learners. Adults seem to learn best when they feel supported and their needs are being met or at least acknowledged by the teacher. They are praised and encouraged for engaging and contributing, and finally they know exactly what to do and how to do it, possibly the number one cause for behavioural issues in an adult class.