You Didn’t Teach Me ‘That’

“Sit”, I said, but instead he looked at me quizzically, his head tipping side to side, ears flopping gracefully. Fido was obviously considering my request – formulating a judgment.

“Should I sit, why would I want to, what are the consequences of sitting, of not sitting, what is her intent and why now, why me, what are her motives and what would be the worst that would happen should I decide not to sit?”

He sat. 

It was a proud moment when I realized Fido had formulated an opinion after consideration or deliberation because Fido had the mental ability to perceive and distinguish relationships and the capacity to form an opinion by distinguishing and evaluating and moreover the capacity to assess situations or circumstances and draw sound conclusions; and finally use good judgment!

Good dog! 

Do you ever wonder why a trainee can understand and perform perfectly in training, and when they get out on their own, freezes, makes poor decisions, or falls apart. What happened? 

Next Generation Trainees must be able to develop (like Fido) the “mental ability to perceive and distinguish relationships, and the capacity to form an opinion by distinguishing and evaluating, and moreover the capacity to assess situations or circumstances, and draw sound conclusions; and finally use good judgment!  

Whew! Sounds daunting but you do it every time you pick up a 911 call or work the radio. When in your training do you ask trainees to actually do these things – think. This, wonderful trainers, is only achieved by presenting your wanna-be call takers with a large variety of 9-1-1 calls and asking THEM to evaluate the call followed by your expert ‘thinking’.  Training the learner to use the mastery ‘tools’ you use everyday to learn to ‘think’ like you. 

Learning methods

That’s Not My Style

There is only one training style that is needed, and that is an effective one. Trainers need not adhere to their most comfortable way of relating information; in fact, to do so would be out of order. A communications center trainer’s ‘charge’ is to deliver the information in any manner that can be absorbed. Many of our trainers feel they are unable to be creative or diverse in their approach to information delivery. We need to train in the most effective way and the most effective way is to offer a variety of ways. Trainers must be afforded access to a wide range of training methods.

A benefit of offering a variety of learning methods is that training programs can be designed to take the responsibility for learning off the trainer and place it where it belongs, with the trainee. The concept is simple; the trainer provides many learning methods — the learner is responsible for letting the trainer know what works them. When we begin to ask the trainee what they prefer, we begin to honor adult learning theory that says quite simply, we do indeed have different stripes, but we aren’t locked into a perception of what works or what is necessary in training.

And The Point Is?

The word learning assumes there is something going on up in the brain area.  That there is information input and that that information formulates into some understanding that hopefully ends up coming out through appropriate decisions and actions. Since we all have different ways of perceiving information, how can a trainer be sure that their way of offering information is getting through to the learner?

One way is by testing— but be careful, some ‘types’ of learners can shut down if evaluated too often. So how can you know? We have a great idea – ask the trainee if they are learning!

There is one very good training tool that fits any learning or training style: it’s called communication. Instead of the trainer filling out Daily Observation Report (DOR), ask the trainee if they are learning.  Ask them to fill out their own Daily Observation Report. Taking the time to assimilate the huge amount of information and activity around them is necessary for learning to ‘think.’  You may want to create a form with questions such as: what did they learn, what did they hear, what did they feel, what do they still need to know? 

It’s funny that although learning is a very private process, we assume to know what someone has learned because we gave him or her the information. Yes, we are all different, but the one thing we have in common is that although we may not know if we are concrete or abstract, we know what we know and, we know what we don’t know – but generally nobody asks us that question.