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Reflections from an Xactimate Instructor

I’m in the middle of teaching an Xactimate class in the New Orleans, LA area to a group of new adjusters.  As is typical, my students have a wide range of backgrounds and computer experience.  Roughly 20% of a normal class has extensive computer experience or experience in another estimating software, so Xactimate comes pretty easy to them.  On the other side of the coin, another 20% have less computer experience or for some other reason find it more challenging.  To be effective as an instructor of an Xactimate Course, the trick is to teach to every skill level to ensure that all students graduate with a solid, working knowledge of how to write a claim in Xactimate.  To this end, I thought it might be helpful if I shared a few tips for being an effective student in an Xactimate class.

Communication is key, and it goes both ways. It is true that it is my job as the instructor to communicate well all aspects of the use of the software to my students.  I take this seriously.  However, I do need good feedback.  I’ve got a lot to cover in a short time, and I’m always looking to wrap up one topic and go onto the next.  I need you to be honest about your level of mastery of any given topic so I can address it further or in a different way.  It’s imperative that you understand everything I teach, so please let me know.  Also remember the old adage; if you have the question, there’s probably others in the class who have the same question.  I’m good, but I can’t read minds – let me know right then and there so I can teach it to everyone.

Take everything you can get.  Remember, this is your class – you paid good money for it, it’s important to your career, it’s something you’re doing with your valuable time; so make the most of it.  Milk it for everything.  Ask every question you ever wanted to ask.  Don’t let any learning opportunity in class pass you by.  I don’t find this pushy or bothersome – quite the contrary.  I love it when people really want to learn and know, and I’ll go out of my way to make sure you get what you want.  You’re not here to just get through class and get a certificate – you’re here so you can master this skill – make it happen!

Choose a good seat.  If your eyes are bad, don’t sit in the very back – come on up front!  If you find you’re asking for help at your workstation often, move to a convenient location so I (or the class assistant) can get to you easily and quickly.

Maintain a positive attitude.  There’s an amazingly wide range of attitudes in class. The majority of the class move right along and have a fine time.  However, learning new software – especially something as detailed as Xactimate – can be challenging. Among the 20% who find they must work harder than the rest to learn it, some folks turn it into a challenge and find it exciting.  Other folks pound on the desk and get upset.  There’s basically a division between those who have determined that they can and will learn it, and those who are saying in their head “I can’t learn this”.  This difference is hugely important. Henry Ford once said “If a man says he can or if a man says he can’t, he’s right.”  The positive-minded folks will master Xactimate – if not completely during class, shortly thereafter because they’ll actually do the post-class exercises and/or practice on their own house.  Xactimate is detailed, but it’s not rocket science.  It can be mastered by anyone with the right attitude, the class and post-class materials, and perseverance.

Experiment! Trying different tools, buttons and tricks in Xactimate is not going to crash it – don’t be bashful, play with it.  You can (almost) always hit “undo” if you mess something up.  The class practices are not real-life claims; you can mess them up and it’s OK.  So go ahead – try it out.  It’s much better to experiment than to be too timid and wait for me to come over to you to say “yes” or “no” to the question “should I push this button?”  I’m happy to help you undo any mess you make, and it’s all practice.  Have fun!

OK, class starts in about an hour, so I’d better go get ready.  Take care!

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