Trainer Diaries - An Introduction
One of my first memories of maintaining a diary goes back to my childhood, when my father flipped official diaries he received as compliments, beautifully bound in leather, elegantly embossed with year, name and title, and asked me to start writing each day on its fresh crisp pages.
His dictum was simple.
Just write down whatever you did during the day, whether it is memorable or not. Specifically write about people you touched and made happy. Don’t bother about language, or who will read what I had written? Write for yourself, as a companion, a confession, an act of learning you can refer back whenever in need.
I followed his words without asking why.
Either recording my thoughts without being censured, or the act of observing wet ink dry out as I laboriously formed words on paper - I don’t know, but the act of being a diarist excited me. For many years thereafter, assiduously, before I went to bed, I would scribble my inner most thoughts recording my jealousies, anger, joy, relationships, and more importantly - my learning. The diary unconsciously became a combined act of clearing my conscience, digesting what I had seen and observed, and setting my varied experiences in perspective.
Much later in life, I would agree wholeheartedly agree with Joan Didion, the celebrated American writer who said a diarist “...remembers what it was to be me: that is always the point “. Though, I am not a compulsive diarist as I used to be as a boy, I still maintain regular notes of my professional life as a Technical trainer, its daily excitement and energy, and more importantly, how a day in class enriches my life and others in more ways than one.
Over the last few decades, I have had the unique opportunity of meeting and teaching hundreds and thousands of people from different age groups and walks of life. I have taught technology to young kids barely out of school, eased young graduate unsure of themselves into becoming confident young technologists; I have raised the levels of discourse and depth in working professionals with years of experience; I have taught teams caught at the edge of indecision about technological choices, and it has also been my privilege to have addressed CTO’s and heads of IT in organizations for whom details are unnecessary, but the bigger picture is.
In every such teaching interaction, what has amazed me is the fact that people approach learning in different ways, at different intersections of emotions, intellectual abilities, upbringing and position. It’s not just about mechanical transmission of technology as an isolated skill in a class room. It is about the transformation of the person itself. At some level, the teacher realizes that the learner brings his whole being into a classroom and not just his brain, and for the training to be successful, the instructor should strive to touch those deeper chords of students’ personality, which alone will guarantee true and rich learning experience. No matter who the teacher is, or what it being taught, the magic happens when the intent of the teacher meets the student at their own levels of maturity; and when that happens, in one magical moment a new insight is born, and both - the teacher and taught - jump to a different, higher orbit.
In these series of anecdotal pieces, called the Trainer diaries, I wish to present some of the more interesting experiences I have had as a trainer over last twenty years. Some of them are purely technical wow moments, and many others fall under a broader category of technical appreciation and acceptance of new ways of doing things. In some rare cases, the transformation is deeply personal, and students become disciples forever. But in all cases, the common thread is the experience of the learner and the positive outcome a great class can generate. I hope readers will find something of interest in what I write.