I am at the 20th Annual International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) Conference in St. Louis this week so I thought it would be appropriate to repost this from earlier this year.
Law enforcement is one of the most complex and demanding professions in society. Trainers play a critical role in preparing the minds and bodies of the heroic men and women they train to perform at the highest levels while dealing with complex and challenging tasks in dynamic and often chaotic environments. So, what are you doing to continually develop the skills and knowledge of your training cadre so they can accomplish their mission?
A 40-hour instructor development course and a 40-hour instructor course in some system of control tactics, firearms, or EVOC should be just a piece of the ongoing professional development for trainers. Sadly, for many trainers that is where it ends until they get sent on an instructor recertification course a few years later.
“…what matters is not the final destination, but all the interesting things that occur along the way. For wherever you are, there is somewhere further to go.”
Do you build in professional development time for your trainers? Are there specific times built into their weekly schedule for professional development? Do you have regular meeting to talk about new concepts and principles and how you might apply them to your training? When you send people to conferences, courses and workshops do you sit down with them in advance to talk about what presentations they might attend, and then set specific dates on the calendar after they return for them to do presentations to their fellow trainers on the key takeaways from every presentation they attended and possible ways to apply those takeaways? Do you ensure they go to a variety of presentations at the conferences and if you are sending more than one person to the conference do you encourage them to attend different sessions?
Do you have a training library (it can be physical and digital) and encourage everyone in the training cadre to contribute books, articles, and research papers from a variety of areas to that library? Do you have people do brief presentations to their fellow trainers on books they have read, interviews they have listened to, webinars they attended, or research papers they have read that have possible implications for your training?
“Each day I move toward that which I do not understand. The result is a continuous accidental learning which constantly shapes my life…”
Are you, and your fellow trainers, continually moving toward that which you do not understand? Or do you just stick with what you know, read books that confirm what you already believe and attend workshops and training sessions on things you already understand and are already skilled in?
Do you reach out to researchers and academics at local colleges and universities and see if they would be willing to do either a live or virtual presentation to your trainers regarding some of their research, and then engage in discussions on possible practical applications to the research? Do you reach out to trainers to see if they would be willing to do a short virtual presentation to your training cadre followed by a Q and A or even just an open forum Q and A with you and your training cadre?
Do you host as many training classes as you can and negotiate for some comp spots on each course? It is usually more cost effective to host and pay for several spots than it is to send one person out of town to attend that training class. If you host the same course multiple times, do you ask the trainer if he or she would be willing to come in a day early, or stay an extra day to meet with your trainers who previously completed the training so they can ask questions regarding any challenges they are facing with the application of the previous learning?
Have you invested in a Training Unit membership to the Excellence in Training Academy and have a discussion at the start of every week on one of the interviews or webinars? Another way to use that membership is allow people to listen to interviews of their choice then do a 10-minute presentation to their fellow trainers on their key takeaways and actions steps from each interview. You can also use select interviews and webinars from the Excellence in Training Academy as part of the onboarding process for new instructors.
“No matter how much you have achieved, you will always be merely good relative to what you can become. Greatness is an inherently dynamic process, not an end point. The moment you think of yourself as great, your slide toward mediocrity will have already begun.”
Jim Collins, Good to Great and the Social Sectors
I realize time is always an issue. You and your fellow trainers are busy. You are, however, in one of the most influential leadership positions in the profession and your professional development is too important to ignore. It is ok to do it in small chunks and do a little, a lot, but you must commit to do it. Too much is at stake not to.
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