What are positive ways to deal with frustration when teaching computer applications to students or to your peers?
When dealing with students it helps to have an aid or computer teacher to assist because the greatest frustration occurs when they cannot get help right away and begin to whine. I guess the same goes for teachers in the role of student as well. The quicker the novice can be bailed out of trouble the easier it goes for all.
Having learners in small groups with the instructor helps as well. This allows for quicker answers to problems.
It helps to have a steno tablet as well to keep notes about what can be accessed by the tool bar or a procedure especially if it is totally foreign.
Patience, patience, patience with the person who is learning what you have already mastered. Keep in mind that you yourself were once in the very same place. In case you forget, go home or to the lab, load some software foreign to you and try to navigate it at the pace you are used to. This tends to increase empathy.
It helps to keep people of slightly differing skill ability together to help each other. This can backfire if the difference is too great because the experienced person gets even more frustrated and does not want to work with the slower person unless they have a great deal of patience and empathy. I have found it helps to point out in a class who has expertise in different programs so students know who to tap for help. Be sure to ask the person first before you volunteer them for this job, however.
Be sure to build in twice as much time as you thought would be needed so that you are not surprised when things do not happen at the rate you expected. Then if you end early you will be much less frustrated and happy.
Patience. Patience. Patience. Hands on. Provide instructions but have the student or the peer do the procedure to retain the process. Encouraging statements and laughing together helps. Repetition and practice helps. Time, lots of time provided to learn.
1. Think Zen and simplify teaching vocabulary.
2. Think Zen and simplify teaching methods, e.g., chunking.
3. Think Zen and compromise when possible; let them in the driver's seat when they need to be in control--do a time limit if necessary.
4. Think Zen and go with the flow instead of going against.
5. Think Zen.
I think most important is that you don't get frustrated with their frustration. Learning computer applications requires practice and they need to know it is okay to make mistakes. Using humor while learning and laughing at these mistakes is important also. If you have mastered an application, the student needs to be reminded that it took practice for you to be able to do what you can do. Sometimes a person learning just needs to be walked through the steps again and again-that's ok! Remember patience is a virtue!
Reflect on when you first learned the application you're now teaching. 0=)
Be EXTRA nice to students named "Zelda", "Diane", or "Shirley".
Keep in mind the student's ability.
First of all, it's important to know what their limitations are. From there, lessons can be organized to meet their needs based on their skill level.
Being open to suggestions and flexible is also important as there may be times when adjustments need to be made throughout the lesson.
Finally, I really think it's important to be very patient as not everybody works at the same pace.
Change gears - demonstrate, application, do a presentation. Have a sense of humor - laugh, remember that Rome was not built in a day! Re-assess progress made to date - perhaps it's time to do something else that needs to be accomplished.Role play - be the "teacher" or the "learner." Assess the task- perhaps frustration is due to the structure of the learning or tasks - are resources, including time, adequate? Vent the frustration in positive ways - "reflect/reflections" so that continuation is built of reassessment/proactive restructuring.
Document your achievements - i.e. like on our individual disks, so that achievement can be "recorded". We've got great instructors and class participants, but we are at different levels of learning conceptual and technical skills. (reflection 8)
1. Take a break by doing something else - stretch exercises, walk, chat, use the restrooms, sing, listen to quiet music
2. Quit for the day and continue tomorrow.
3. After quitting,do some reflecting and get a good night's sleep before attempting the task again
We've all been in both roles, as learners and teachers so it wouldn't be difficult to empathize with someone learning something new, whether it is computers, reading, or math concepts. It's the challenge of trying to get someone to say "Ah-ha", that put us in this profession as teachers.
As long as the learner is trying his best to be receptive to what one is saying, it is our job to present new information in a way that makes it easy for him/her to understand and retain.
So what do we do when frustration sets in, and we all know that it happens. I would put it away, walk away, and try again tomorrow, perhaps using a new technique. Many times looking at something again after night's rest puts things in a better perspective.
©Debi Tisdell 1998