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Stress abounds!

Posted by Mick on February 11, 2010 – 7:57 pm

I am so glad this week is almost over.  It’s been one of the more stressful weeks in recent memory.

Why so stressful?  That’s an excellent question.  Allow me to expound on that issue.  I warn you, the answer may be more than you bargained for, but them’s the breaks.

As many of you know, and some of you are about to find out, in my current career (I say current because I’ve had a few and I hope to have at least one more) I am a technical trainer for a private, for profit, Computer Training Center which shall remain nameless.  The majority of our business is what we call B2B, meaning companies send their employees to us for training.  Our training covers the gamut – we train in office applications, graphics applications, soft skills like Project Management, all the way up to intense technical training on software development, database server management, and networking.  My personal specialties are Security, Server Management (Microsoft), Active Directory, and Exchange Server.  I can do all that stuff, but I excel in the teaching of that stuff.

Those that can do it usually can’t teach it.  Most people don’t realize it, but training is a specialized skill in and of itself.  I’m a decent network admin.  I’m a damn good trainer.

Late last week I was informed that I had one week to prepare to teach a new class on Deploying Windows 7.  Five days to prep a five day class that I would be teaching immediately afterward.  That’s usually no big deal.  This time, it was a big deal.  First, the course delivery methods have changed drastically (you really don’t want me to go in to how; trust me, I know these things).  Second, deploying Windows 7 to an Enterprise network involves using a host of new tools that I haven’t had time to play with.

The problem that arises is this – it takes me 5 day to prepare to teach a 5 day class assuming I’m familiar with the tech that I will be teaching.  The prep time is to learn how the material is presented.  I have go over the material and look for errors.  Then I like to practice the labs and look for all the places the students will make mistakes so that I can warn them when appropriate or fix their mistakes when they happen.  That prep time is all about getting familiar with the material, not the tech.  This time, there was lots of tech that I didn’t know yet.  And the students expect me to know it.

So it’s been a bit of a rough week, and next week will be rough as well.  To make matters worse, it’s a live in person class.

Many months ago (I don’t remember how long ago and I’m too tired to look it up and you don’t care anyway) we started using a new training methodology called Online Live.

I DIGRESS:  Does anyone but me think that using OLL as an initialism for Online Live is a bit off?  Online is one word, not two.  Shouldn’t it just be OL?  but of course, no one asked my opinion, it was probably a marketing decision.  Maybe I should get a job in marketing.  Oh wait, I can’t.  I have a soul.

We started this new training modality called Online Live, where I am no longer in the room with my students.  My students are spread out across several states.  I’m sitting in a room with a headset and microphone (reminding me of my short stint as a DJ) and a web page.  My slides are projected on a white board on the web page.  The students can hear me, and they can see my slides.  I can write on the white board.  I can also share out applications on my system, so I can demonstrate things to them live, in real time, on actual systems.  It’s actually quite slick.  I was the first instructor in our network to use this, and I’m still the instructor who consistently gets the highest satisfaction scores from our students.  But that doesn’t matter.

What matters is that I’ve gotten quite comfortable sitting in my room all alone and not actually seeing the people.  Even better, I’m used to them not seeing me.  Well, that changes next week, because for this class, this first teach of new material that I’m still trying to master, I have to be in a room full of real people.  Real live people watching me if I run in to some content I’m not really comfortable with.

On line, no one can see me consult the book.

I DIGRESS SOME MORE:  In my previous digression, I used the term initialism.  A few years ago I learned that technically, an acronym is only an acronym if you say it as a word.  SCUBA is an acronym.  NATO is an acronym.  FBI is not, because when you say it, you actually say Eff-Be-Eye.  That, my friends, is an initialism.

QUESTION OF THE DAY:  When you see the term FAQ, do you think of it as an initialism or an acronym?  I always think of it as an acronym.  It’s a word to me.  Whenever someone says it like Eff-A-Kew, I have to stop and think about what they’re saying.

That is basically why I’ve been stressed all week.  It’s also why I will be stressed next week, although I expect next week to be a bit less stressful after Monday.  The first day is always a bitch, because I have stage fright.  I’ve been training professionally in one form or another for over 20 years, and I still get stage fright.  Every time.  Once I get going, I’m ok.  And in this case, after the first day, I’ll know if I’m going to pull this class off or not.  If things go badly, it’s going to be a long week.

There will be much studying this weekend.  As much as I want to sit down and work on the script, I very well may not touch it.  Because guess what?  Not only do I have to finish preparing for the class, but it’s Valentines Day on Sunday.  And that’s also Tara’s birthday.  I imagine she’s going to want me to spend at least a little time with her, and don’t you think she deserves it?

Be good to each other.


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2 Responds so far- Add one»

  1. 1. lola0813 Said:

    What happened to the “for every 1 hour of instruction, you should have 3 hours of prep” rule? Totally understand the high stress. That’s why I stopped training.

  2. 2. Mick Said:

    Three hours of prep for every one hour of instruction? That would be nice. Maybe some day . . .

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