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Things I Must Remember

I do most of my teaching from a little office carved out of what would normally be a bay in my garage. It's a humble place: cluttered, compact, with the advantage and disadvantage that everything I need and a good deal of what I don't is within arm's reach. In the winter it is heated by computers, lights and monitors. The same is true in the summer.

My day begins at 6AM, or frequently 5AM, or occasionally 4AM. Such is the life of a West Coast trainer with so many East Coast customers. I am an early riser in Starbuck's country, so this is not much of an issue.

I approach my day with some of the same care you might expect and want to see from an airline pilot or a physician or a cop on a beat or anyone who might be harmed by complacency. There are, of course, the normal preparatory activities: logging into the environment, checking the roster, setting up slides, verifying materials, spinning up the IP phone. However, the checklist contains some other items that are more about remembering who I am and with whom I will be sharing this day.

When I am dealing with customers, I must remember that Epicor is not their job. Epicor is their tool to get their job done. Their job may be to create reports, send out invoices, analyze data, and to perform a myriad of tasks to keep their business going and growing. Their job is their business. So my mission must be to communicate not only how Epicor functionality works but how it can be applied to the needs of their business. If my students cannot perform their jobs with greater ease and efficiency after the class then it was all for nothing.

I teach many classes repeatedly, sometimes the same class multiple times in a week. This might lead me to become stale and rote. What I must remember is that for the student this is the first time and this for them is new material. So the same care and energy I showed the first group who heard me needs to be there for all succeeding classes: the same careful patient explanations and clarifications; the same eye for detail and ear for those who need additional help.

I must also remember that for many of my students this is not their native tongue. I mean that in a couple of ways. I teach exclusively in English. For a number of my students this is not their native language, so I need to allow extra time for them to translate both what I am saying and what the manual provides. For a group of my English-speaking customers this is also not their language. Some who are transitioning from older simpler technologies may find what I teach to be equally unintelligible. I use words like Epidataview, inner joins, sub-queries, calculated fields, and Epibinding.  Then I talk in acronyms like ICE, BPM, APM, BAQ, ESC, and EPM. If I assume that everyone knows these words coming in, then I will miss my mark completely. Sometimes my job is teaching a new language.

The last thing I must remember before I blurt out my “Good Morning” is that this is not about me. Sure, I want to be liked as an instructor, I want a good time to be had by all and I want to rate highly on my evaluations, but this is not about me. It is about them. The real measure of my effort is whether I provided value for the time and expense incurred. Did students walk away not only knowing what to do but why to do it? We encourage students to evaluate courses immediately after completing them. The real evaluation takes place some days, weeks, or perhaps months later when they find they are able to perform a task they learned in class, solve a problem or make a decision based on some insight the class provided. That is when my early morning efforts in the little office in my garage really have paid off.

Posted by Stephen Rossberg, Sr. Trainer, Epicor University


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