There is nothing more frustrating or unsafe than having chaos in class. When you have 8-16 people of various skill doing their own thing it is a recipe for disaster.
Two ears, one mouth
The first point to cover is in order to follow instructions, you have to listen. There is nothing more infuriating than putting out instructions for a high risk evolution and know attention is not a priority. Instead, folks would rather load magazines, play with their gear or even socialize. I get it, being in a training class is fun. I love the experience and I’m passionate about ensuring folks not only learn, but have a good time. Now, I’m going to burst a lot of bubbles here. You CANNOT multi-task. At best, you can “switch task”; which is switching from one task to another. You are not fully engaged in either one, you jump through the middle.
Set yourself up for success
What are some things as a student you can do to listen effectively and ensure you comprehend the instructions and can achieve optimal performance. Many times instructors will provide important information to a group. The intention is more than one member of the group could benefit so by default it should be put out to the whole group. We use this method for many subjects so if you want to see improvement or make the gains you need to listen effectively. Start by facing the instructor, you don’t have to look them in the eye, but face them. If you cannot hear them, move to a better position. If they are going to demonstrate a skill, move to the best position to observe. Relax, you now need to pay attention and listen attentively. This also means you need to limit distractions, don’t switch task between the instructions and whatever the distraction.
Realize you don’t know
We say it all the time, hell I even list it on the gear list, but keep an open mind. If your mind is closed off to learning then why the hell are you even in the class. No matter the subject, if you are trying to make improvements then you need to remind yourself you don’t know everything. If you could walk into the class with that as your main understanding you are poised to make big gains. When people are closed off, they are closed off to instructions on how to participate in drills or evolutions. You end up having to re-brief or make corrections during. With an open mind you can envision what the instructor is trying to convey, you can see it in your own mind’s eye. When you hear the words, your mind will form the images or thoughts.
Mind your manners
Whatever you do, do not interrupt unless it is absolutely necessary. Chances are the interruption was because you weren’t paying attention or have already put your own filters into the message. Most instructors will ask some students to brief back what they heard. It is a great way to check for comprehension. I do it and it works. When people are placed in a situation they must pay attention, they tend to pay attention. Go figure. It also gives the students or group an opportunity to explain in their own words how they interrupted your instruction. If there is an error important enough you can correct it and move forward with little fanfare. It also keeps you honest, you can’t pretend to know what you are doing when you cannot explain it back sufficiently.
Learning is challenging, but to get the most out of a learning opportunity you have to pay attention. Reduce your own barriers to learning, give the instructor your best effort.