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Advice for New Trainers – from Other Trainers

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MRS Training & Rescue Operative Jason Barstow recently shared a post to LinkedIn asking for golden pieces of advice for new trainers in the industrial sector. When Jason first started his career in training 15 years ago – he was afraid of public speaking, but today – he can hold his own.

Screenshot of Jason Barstow's LinkedIn Post - Advice for New Trainers

Jason started the discussion by suggesting that his advice would be:

  • Remember – it’s not about you, it’s about the candidate
  • Be honest – if you don’t know, tell them and try to find out


Advice for New Trainers

One of the first to reply was Peter Fletcher, an Aviation Crew Commander at Teesside International Airport – endorsing Jason’s advice by saying:

“We can’t hold all the knowledge, but at least we know where to find it”.

Steve Holgate, a Safety Instructor at Kentect Training also agreed – by saying:

“Every day is a learning day – even for the trainer”.

Jason’s LinkedIn post received a lot of replies – from many experts. We contacted and asked for their permission to publish their advice for new trainers, see them below.

  1. ‘No matter how much you know, a fresh pair of eyes from a newbie apprentice can always teach you something.’ Adam Gent, Director of Real First Aid. And Adam Shaw, Senior specialist trainer at Bridgwater and Taunton College agrees suggesting there is ‘no such thing as a silly question’. We agree too – it is easy to forget – your reaction could affect someone’s confidence positively or negatively for a long time to come. 
     
  2. ‘You don’t need to know everything. Learn from your students, after all it is about them not you.‘ David Moorhouse, First Aid Trainer with St John’s Ambulance. This is very true, and it is amazing how often you can pick up little nuggets from delegates.
     
  3. ‘Keep it real and relevant. Students are not stupid; they will expose you if you lie or make claims or take credit for other achievements.’ Paul Brown, Trainer, Safety and Security Professional. Chris Garsden, a Nursing student at Sheffield Hallam University agreed saying ‘If you are going to use anecdotal accounts of past incidents make sure they're yours.’
     
  4. Aaron Davies, Group Learning & Development Manager at Keltbray Group offered two tips:
    • ‘Teaching and Instructing is as much about listening as it is talking.’
    • ‘Never stop developing yourself whether asking those in the workplace ‘what they are doing or why’ to reading, attending courses, or going to a trade show. CPD is everywhere.’
       
  5. Allan Morling, Lead SSW Trainer at TCHC suggested – ‘demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm for your subject, through your training and delivery, and your students will thrive.‘
     
  6. Paul Steward Managing Director Platinum Oak Limited, offered up a phrase he finds very useful – ‘If they can’t learn the way you teach, can you teach the way they learn?’  And another great benchmark he offered is from Albert Einstein. Paraphrased as ‘If you cannot explain it in simple terms, you don’t understand it enough yourself.’
     
  7. Although now semi-retired, Geoff Palmer, is an experienced Programme / Service Delivery Manager with significant experience within the Education and IT industry, offered two useful tips:
    • ‘Think back to the most boring trainer that taught you stuff, then think of ways you can engage and motivate your students, to not put them through what you went through.‘
      In a nutshell, be the trainer you wished you had had.
    • ‘Allow your students to get things wrong (assuming it is safe to do so). People learn more from making mistakes, rather than doing stuff right all the time. (so now you have cut the cable 30cm too short, what’s your plan to finish off the connection?).’ This sentiment was echoed by John Lord, MD of SimTrainer UK who said, ‘Teach how to learn from mistakes but not to fear making one, we are not gifted perfection.’
       
  8. Richard Bullock, Infrastructure Skills Manager at Construction Skills and Innovation Centre, said ‘Not necessarily advice I'd give directly but the following quote has stayed with me through the years... "It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from simulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail." That was Albert Einstein and pinched from the first pages of 'Freedom to Learn' by Carl Rogers. It sounds a bit pompous, but I'd strongly recommend the book to any new trainer. Served me well when I started training brickies and lead to some fantastic experiences in the workshops, sites, and classrooms. Be creative, be considerate, be real and definitely reiterate your first point... you could be the best tradesperson in the world, but if you don't have the commitment to education and putting the work in to educate others, their learning will be limited. Facilitate... takes more prep but infinitely more value - especially in the construction trades area.’
     
  9. ‘Know your stuff and keep up to date and be enthusiastic’ – two top tips from Paul Butler Governor at Ginger Nut Training.
     
  10. Our final tips are from Colin Wells, MD of Elite Safety Training & Rescue, who said:
  • ‘Don’t ever think you’re better than the learner, be humble and be kind.’
  • ‘Don’t ever teach them to pass the exam, teach them about the subject so they have the knowledge and understanding to pass the exam.’
     

We totally agree. Anyone attending training must be competent to do the work safely when they have completed the course. Competence is key.

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