Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to meet and work with a wide variety of fellow officers in all manners of assignments. Other than my longtime partners, with whom I obviously share a lifelong relationship, the most influential officers have been the trainers I met along the way. Good or bad trainers have a lasting impact on each and every student they encounter. The goal of every trainer should be to ensure the impact they have is a positive one. Hopefully the following tips can assist you in achieving that goal.
Know your topic – it goes without saying that a good instructor needs to be well versed in the topic they are teaching. Unfortunately, if you attend enough courses you will eventually run into that instructor who does not know the information and is simply repeating what someone else has told them or provided to them in a handout. I can read a handout myself; I don’t need an instructor to do that for me. I want an instructor who can provide the professional insight and background necessary to truly understand the material.
Never stop learning – there is not a single topic in law enforcement which is not constantly evolving and changing; to be a successful instructor you must evolve and change with it. One of the worst instructors I ever encountered was a veteran officer who would start his course by explaining how he had been responsible for many early cases involving his topic, how he was one of the first recognized experts. Problem was he had moved into management over a decade earlier and was still teaching information that had been updated many times since then. To this day former students still talk about how his classes were twice as long as necessary because you had to learn what he was teaching to pass the class and then unlearn it to succeed later.
Admit when you make a mistake – even the most knowledgeable and prepared instructor is still human and will eventually make a mistake. When this happens to you, admit it, fix it and move on. Chances are the student will hardly notice, or if they do will quickly forget about it. However, if you try to BS your students and hide your mistake, someone is going to notice and you will lose credibility. More importantly, the purpose of any training is to provide accurate information and anything else is a failure on your part.
Be willing to accept suggestions – as an instructor you will encounter a wide range of students with a variety of previous experiences, some of whom may be able to suggest alternative methods of solving a problem or completing a specific task. A good instructor will listen to these suggestions and evaluate whether they might improve future training while the poor instructor will simply dismiss them because it is different or was not thought of by the experts. Remember, training is often fluid and positive change can come from multiple sources, even students.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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