Instructor Development

That One Student


Michael Warren

May 20, 2021

May 20, 2021

If you have been a trainer for any length of time you know that one student. The one that is determined to learn nothing. The one who has made it their mission to oppose everything you present. The one who seemingly has it in for you.

So how do you, as a trainer, handle that one? How do you still accomplish your training mission while fighting the nearly irresistible urge to go full Diemon Dave on them (click here if you don’t know who Diemon Dave is)?

In most situations, the best way to handle “that one” is to not allow yourself to be sucked into their trap. They are looking for an argument and if they don’t get what they want, most of them will stop trying.

There are a few, oh, those few, that won’t be placated. They will continue the argument even when you have tried to move on. If this is what you’re facing, then do your best to speak with them one-on-one on break. Doing so limits those who can see and hear these discussions. By utilizing break time, you also limit the time that can be dedicated to the conversation.

Truth be told, almost all of “that one” students can be handled in these two ways. But there are a select few, a select few that simply will not give up. They are not content unless there is confrontation. And, furthermore, they often will be putting forth ideas, tactics, or strategies that are unsafe. This cannot be ignored.

In these rare cases instructors have two possible responses. These responses can be used individually or together. Again, these are only for the most extreme circumstances.

  1. Dismiss the student. If the student is supporting something that is unsafe, and they simply will not stop, they must be removed from the training. Once removed, the instructor should address the class specifically as to why the idea, not the student, is unsafe and cannot be tolerated.
  2. Address the safety concern with the student’s supervisor. If the student has stated their intent to do something that will put that officer’s safety in jeopardy or one of their partners in jeopardy you must do something. Address it with the officer first. But if they insist then you must do something.

Neither one of these are ideal. And it’s hoped that it never comes to this. But there are those who simply will not listen to what good sense, department policy, or the law says about a particular situation.

That one student – hopefully you can reach them. If not, instructors have a duty to protect everyone in the organization and the organization itself.