Last week I wrote about the reality that if you want a professional organization you have to invest in your training and your trainers. I want to expand on the topic of investing in the professional development of your trainers.
Most agencies have new instructors attend some form of Instructor Development course. Instructor Development courses however, vary greatly in the quality of the material presented. Some have not updated the curriculum in years. Some provide a lot of theory with limited understanding of the real world application of that theory (Imagined work versus Real work). Others provide an excellent foundation for trainers to advance from.
New firearms and control tactics instructors are usually sent to an instructor certification course, as they should be. The problem is that too many of these instructor courses are simply advanced student courses. The participants do lots of reps of the techniques and skills resulting in an increase in their skill level, but spend little or no time learning how to teach in a manner that best facilitates the participants actually learning and retaining the information. They too often also fail to teach new instructors how to diagnose problems students may be experiencing, or how to provide effective feedback. Trainers tasked with teaching strategic communications are also usually sent on a De-escalation Instructor course, which can vary drastically on content and approach to the topic. Outside of these disciplines there are often no instructor certification classes for new instructors.
While Instructor Development courses and Instructor Certification classes are a good start, they should not be the end point. You need to find ways to continually invest in the professional development of your trainers. Below are seven options to do this:
- Identify books on key topics and have the group of instructors work through the book a chapter at a time, meeting weekly to discuss key takeaways and actionable items.
- Assign each instructor to research a topic related to improving learning, retention, recall and application and then once a week have one of them deliver a presentation to the group followed by a discussion of ways to apply the material.
- Reach out to people who are a Subject Matter Resource in an area of interest and see if they would be willing to set up a Zoom call with your instructor cadre. It could be done in the format of Q&A or a presentation by the SMR followed by a Q&A. Following that Zoom call give your trainers time to reflect on the material, and the application for your training, then meet to discuss everyone’s thoughts and develop action plans.
- As a group develop a series of 10 minute lessons on topics related to teaching, learning, presenting, leading, communication or any other topic and start every day with a 10 Minute Training Bite. You could even start each week off with a 10 minute Training Bite and the rest of the week spend that first 10 minutes in discussion, dialogue and debate on the topic.
- Get a Training Unit membership for the Excellence in Training and use the interviews and webinars as learning development content. This could be done where everyone listens to the interview of the week, then as a group discuss each person’s takeaways and potential action steps to apply the material. Another option would be to have each of the trainers select interviews or webinars of interest to them and then have them develop and deliver a training module to the rest of the instructor cadre on the interviews. One agency utilizes viewing of specific Excellence in Training Academy webinars and listening to selected interviews as part of the onboarding process for new instructors.
- Have your instructors participate in live or virtual courses, workshops and conferences and after completion have them do a presentation on their key takeaways from the workshop, or a series of presentations covering takeaways from each presentation they attended at a conference then discuss as a group the possible action steps to apply the content. The Dare to Be Great online leadership workshop is just one great option.
- Have members of the training cadre attend in person or online courses through post secondary institutions. The trainers would then either do regular, brief presentations throughout the semester to talk about what they are learning and how they are applying that learning, or they could do a longer presentation at the conclusion of the course.
I am sure you can come up with a number of other possible options. You might consider starting by bringing together instructors from a variety of disciplines in your agency and have a discussion on what each one teaches, followed by a discussion on the points of connection and overlap between each of the areas. This will help break down the silos in training.
Your training cadre is some of the most influential people in your agency. Be sure you invest in their ongoing professional development. The key here is not simply to focus on getting them certificates of attendance or completion, the key is to enhance their learning, knowledge, and understanding with the goal to ultimately improve the training they deliver. That is why the seven suggestions involve reflection, dialogue, discussion, debate, sharing, teach backs and action items. Simply building people’s CV’s is of limited value. You need to create a culture that values learning, connecting the dots on what people are learning, sharing the learning and taking action to implement the learning.
Winning Mind Training – Dedicated to serving the heroic men and women of law enforcement.
The Excellence in Training Academy – A membership site created for law enforcement trainers willing to invest in their ongoing professional development.
Dare to Be Great Leadership – Committed to helping aspiring and frontline leaders on their leadership journey through a weekly leadership blog and the online Dare to Be Great workshop.