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He Yelled At The Class. . .And Was One Of The Best Trainers I’ve Ever Seen

September 16, 2015

How does the server know which port to choose for it’s outbound connection?

I don’t know.

What I mean is, when the application is talking to the end point mapper, does it have a way of specifying the port range it wants?

I still don’t know.

Well, what about when. . .

LOOK! No matter how many times you ask that question I STILL don’t know the answer.

I was stunned. I was a new Microsoft employee and sitting in a training class for Windows NT Server. The class was set up in a less than ideal way. There were 33 students, but only 26 desks. I was one of the lucky ones who had a computer to myself. 

Like a lot of other people in the class, I was new to Microsoft’s networking products and servers. I had recently been recruited from WordPerfect. I was an email specialist. This was my first introduction to Windows Server. 

The course was a two week long course. The instructor started his introduction with 

My name is Tim. I’m originally from New York and people say that they can tell.

He was a great instructor. Maybe a little brusque, but well skilled in explaining the complex concepts of Windows NT in a simple straightforward manner. The issue wasn’t the instructor. The issue was Jason. 

Jason sat in the front row. Unlike most of us, he wasn’t new to Windows NT. In fact, he had been working in Microsoft’s IT department as a desktop engineer. The concepts that Tim was addressing weren’t new to Jason. And that was the problem. 

In this overcrowded room of newbies, Jason wanted Tim to dive into the more technical and esoteric aspects of the server and network. Tim held it together for the first two days. On the third day he’d finally had enough. Jason was one of those tech people that doesn’t respond to subtle verbal clues. 

Tim’s response had two effects on me. First, I was surprised that an instructor could actually respond to a student like that. Don’t get me wrong, Tim wasn’t a rude instructor. He did all the training techniques correctly. For two days he tried to teach around Jason’s incessant questions. It was only after all of that failed that he was short with Jason. 

The second surprise was I realized I really wanted to be a trainer. It wasn’t the anticipation of getting to yell at a student, of course. But, I realized that teaching a class was more than “standing up and reading what’s in the book.” A good instructor made the material come alive. By showing some personality, Tim helped me see the key role the instructor plays in making the class not just enjoyable, but valuable. 

Several years later, I went to work in the trainer organization at Microsoft and was colleagues with Tim. I reminded him about that class. And thanked him for his response. 

Well, I did warn you I was from New York.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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