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Tips from BESD: Staff development challenge: Best practices for dealing with resistant learners

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, June 4, 2010

All staff development specialists face the challenge of motivating learners who are reluctant to participate in an education program. These learners' reactions can range from mild annoyance to outright hostility. Their attitudes affect other learners, making it difficult to establish or maintain a positive learning environment, whether the setting is a classroom or a distance learning situation. These attitudes may make you doubt yourself and can affect your enthusiasm for education.

Start by recognizing and accepting three things about resistant learners. First, there will always be some individuals who are resistant to education. This is an ongoing challenge with which all staff development specialists must deal.

Second, don't blame yourself for somebody else's lack of motivation. You are not responsible for others' desire to learn. Evaluate the effectiveness of your programming and make improvements or changes as evidence dictates. But don't assume responsibility for colleagues' behaviors, and don't let anybody else make you responsible for them.

Third, don't ignore or simply accept resistant learners' behaviors. These can impede the effectiveness of the educational activity.

Editor's note: This excerpt was adapted from the June 2010 issue of Briefings on Evidence-Based Staff Development. Discover all the benefits of subscribing to Briefings on Evidence-Based Staff Development.

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