Training with Red Flags and Scheming and Shouting

I once had a trainee talk about cheating on his wife and then yell at his fellow trainees. I had another trainee decide to skip part of the training.

This all happened because about ten years ago I started helping out with training in my company. Basically, my company recruits, or at least it used to (more on that later) from two locations. Inside Japan and outside of Japan. (This outside the box thinking tells you a lot about my company.)

After the new hires arrive, they are put through four or five days of training. They get basic TEFL teaching instruction, company policy explanations and tips on not snapping mentally and then beating your colleagues with a textbook; and they also get medical checks and, on occasion, go visit their employer.

Along the way, trainers and training assistants are watching them for any and all warning signs that they may cause trouble. We would listen for obvious red flags such as racist and sexist comments; people who didn’t seem to work well as part of a team; and any comments that indicated a too eager interest in being near junior high and high school girls.

In one training session, after I’d had a lot of experience, I was assigned a group of Bulgarian women (long story) and a couple random Englishmen. Near the end of the training, each trainee was assigned a 20 minute demo lessons. Each demo lesson had to have a warm up; introduce a grammar point; and then show a variety of lesson and the trainees ability to transition from one activity to another. They had a couple hours to plan and make materials and be ready to teach. I would also assign at least one trainee to play the part of “obnoxious little shit” (a technical term) to see how the trainees handled bad students.

One of the Englishmen got up and announced that he couldn’t think of a warm up and skipped to the first activity. He passed out a work sheet and then spent five minutes quietly walking around and “observing”. He then repeated that with the next part of the lesson. He finished after 10 minutes and the students had barely spoken. I told him he had to do it again and that he should probably figure out a way to do it right.

My favorite incident, though, happened in one of my first solo training sessions, I had a group of about 20 and most of them seemed to play nice with each other. One guy was dressed a bit casually (suits and ties were expected, at least at the time, even in summer) but he seemed to be working well with the others, although he did tend to go out of his way to partner with women.

During a smoke break, I was talking with him and a group of the ladies and somehow and for some reason he started talking about his wife throwing a remote control at him. He said she did it because he’d told her “if you don’t give me what I want I’ll just go out and find it myself”.

Red flags started popping up all over the place.

Later, I put everyone in pairs for the 20 minute demo lessons (at the time they were a pair activity). I made the mistake of pairing him with one of the quietest women in the group which let him dominate the planning.

When it was their turn, he took charge of the warm up. He then started shouting:

(points at random students) LISTEN! THINK! LISTEN! THINK! (points at own mouth) YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND THE WORDS COMING OF MY MOUTH BECAUSE YOU CAN’T SPEAK ENGLISH! LISTEN! THINK! LISTEN! THINK!

That went on for three minutes. Once the rest of the class were suitably scared to death–even the designated “bad student” was too freaked out to know what to do–he stopped shouting and turned the lesson over to his partner.

I made several notes as red flags clouded my vision. Luckily the other trainees made most of the comments I was going to make, leaving me to only interject that I was glad he gave the response he did because I wasn’t sure if he was serious or just trying to piss me off.

I never saw him again, although he did become a big part of my training as I imitated the shouting to demonstrate a key “thou shalt not”.

I don’t know what happened to him, but I heard things didn’t go very well.

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