“Approach each day as if you have something new to learn. Your task is not to begin in a noble place, but to end up in one.”
To be a great trainer you must also be a humble learner. As Eric Greitens points out you need to approach each day as if you have something new to learn. You must also approach every class you teach as if you have something new to learn from the participants.
It is easy to fall into the mindset of being the ‘Subject Matter Expert’ (SME). The problem with thinking you are the “expert” is that too often you forget about the experience of the group in front of you. Whether it is a recruit class, or an in-service class there is a lot of life experience and skills sitting in the room. Even in a recruit class, where they may not have any law enforcement experience, they have a great deal of life experience. They come from backgrounds as teachers, customer service representatives, the hospitality industry, counsellors and management positions. They have volunteer experience and hobbies and interests. Some come from military backgrounds or come from other elements of the first responder community. They all bring a lifetime of learning and unique skills and talents.
As a result they bring skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and dealing with people. The in-service officers who show up with a chip on their shoulder often do so because trainers in the past failed to acknowledge their experience and what they, as experienced officers, bring to the training session.
Consider yourself as a Subject Matter Resource. You have skills, knowledge, training and experience that you can add to, build on and enhance what the participants bring.
Remember that you are not the Hero. The participants in your class are the Heroes and your job is to be the wise and humble mentor. It can be easier to remain humble when you think of yourself as a resource instead of an expert.
Being open to learning from every class you teach and from the participants in your class will make you a better trainer and at the same time will enhance the learning environment for the participants.
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