Oct 07, 2016

Meeting My Learners in Their Work Environment

A coach's story of online encounters

I wonder if in person they’ll be shorter or taller than they appear on Skype video? I hope they find me thinner up close, since the camera does add 10 pounds. Ultimately, I hope our online chemistry will translate in person.

These are only a few of the random thoughts that crossed my mind when I was invited to participate in a 3 day Lingo Live workshop at a customer’s headquarters in California.

No, I wasn’t meeting an internet girlfriend for the first time in person – hardly that dramatic. Still, I could identify with Kip’s nervous energy and excitement, at least a bit. Yes my learners all love technology, as do I; so at least we have that. But I really hoped that meeting my learners in the flesh would be fun, and it was.

I was pleased to have 5 of my regular learners attend my group classes in person. After months of building a rapport, both on a personal and professional level, I was wondering if it would be different in person. And it wasn’t. Any awkwardness was momentary; after a handshake from most and a big bearhug from one, any apprehension evaporated instantly.

If I were to compare it to anything relatable, and if I were to put myself in my learners shoes, it might be like that feeling you got as a kid, when your cousin or best friend visited you at your school. You wanted to show him your classroom, your desk and maybe the monkey bars where all the cool kids hung out. Playing host/tour-guide was kind of fun. Similarly, I think my learners had a nice time showing me around the campus, showing me their work area, their favorite snack shop and where the cool engineers took their breaks. And I was all too happy to take the tour and be taken to lunch.

It’s only natural that some type of a professional friendship develop between learner and coach. After all, we do spend 3 hours per week with them which can quickly add up over the course of a few months. Not only do we deep-dive into the riveting world of prepositions and adverbs, but we also learn about our learners hobbies, interests and home country.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of our work, we are usually multiple zip codes away from our learners at the very least, if not continents. Not only that but we’re all very busy people. But if at all possible, I would highly recommend bringing along your significant other or a friend and meeting up with one of your learners for coffee or lunch. It will only build chemistry and strengthen the learner-coach bond.

Even though none of my learners turned out to be quite as stunning as Lafawnduh, a good time was had by all.

 

– Steven Serrano