Crisis Response Training – Training the 5 Most Difficult Students

It is not easy being a staff trainer, especially for crisis response training. Imagine being a teacher of a classroom, except all your students are grown adults. There is no “authority figure” complex or option to send them to the principle’s office.

But rest assured, here are tips from the CCG head instructors on how to best handle the 5 most notorious students in a crisis response training course, almost all of whom arrive to every training day:


The What If-er

There is always at least one student (if not several) in a training class who wants to brainstorm and talk out every single scenario that could possibly happen in the facility. The problem: it is impossible to cover every potential scenario of violence or danger. While rooted in good intentions, this endless list of “what if” saps time away from the training, and also limits the student and their peers to thinking only in details, not learning how to problem-solve.

What to do:

The goal is to get them out of the “detail” mentality. Workplace violence is never textbook, and staff who work with difficult or challenging persons need to grasp the concepts of crisis intervention so they can think critically and match the newly learned techniques to different situations as they occur. Drive home the importance of thinking on one’s feet, not perfectly planning out a solution to every hypothetical crisis incident.

The Storyteller

This is the student who seems to think the class is one big campfire, and the purpose is to recount every crisis incident they have ever been involved in.

What to do:

Engagement is good, so it is alright to let this student share one or two stories. Once you discover they are the storyteller type, though, do not be afraid to cut these stories short. You are the trainer, not them. Reminding them of the time limit on the class is also helpful, as not even such a talkative student wants to be the cause of everyone having to stay late.

The Challenger 

This student is resistant either to you as a trainer or the course material itself. Usually they do not believe the training will be effective and therefore not “worth it,” or they are frustrated that they have to sit through a course when they feel they do not need to learn the material for crisis response training. They will often pose difficult questions, wanting you to prove your competence and whether or not the material will actually improve their quality of life at work.

What to do:

Do not be afraid of these students. Remember that you were chosen as a trainer for specific reasons, such as experience in the field and a talent with teaching. Meet their questions head-on; be confident and honest. These students are not looking for perfect answers from you so much as wanting you to be real with them.

The Life-Sucker 

This student is often the most dreaded by trainers. Unlike the Challenger who shows their misconduct by asking difficult questions, the Life-Sucker is silent. They sit in that silence and emit a wave of negative energy, staring at you with an unimpressed expression and refusing to engage with you at all.

What to do:

Avoid looking at them. It may sound excessive or rude, but these students have already decided they will not be won over by you. Do not make it your goal to try. Focus instead on the other students, glancing at the Life-Suckers now and then during the class, but moving on very quickly. If you do not, you will find yourself discouraged, anxious, and as if the life is getting sucked right out of your teaching.

The Biggest Fan 

This student is tricky to deal with as a trainer, as they will not feel like a difficult person. In fact, you might love having them. They are your biggest fan, who talk excitedly about the different aspects of the training and give you compliments on your teaching during the class breaks. But just like the storyteller, these students end up wasting so much of the time needed for the actual training. They leave you feeling great about yourself but also rushed to finish all the material, not to mention the image of favoritism to the other students.

What to do:

Engage with the student, just not more than with his/her peers. Make sure not to call on them too much or let them talk longer than you have with the other students. If they really want to talk with you that badly, they can always invite you to lunch when the course is over.


There you have it! Be sure to have these tips in your head the next time you walk into a crisis response training course as the instructor. It will greatly benefit both you and your classroom. Please drop by our customer service de escalation page to learn more.