|The ‘Spark of Learning’: Some Advice for the Training Instructor|
|By Gary F. Cornelius, First Lt. (Retired)|
Recently I had the pleasure of substituting for an instructor in a basic jail officer recruit class in a Virginia criminal justice academy. I thought-what advice can I give them? What can they take away from the training? Although the curriculum is prepared with the recruits filling in information, I enjoyed explaining the information and giving them the benefit of my experience.
We all have been through the “rookie training” and were glad when we finally graduated from the academy. But the “spark” that a conscientious jail officer develops in training should not be extinguished. I have met many jail officers that want to continue learning throughout their careers. The fire that is lit in the recruit academy never goes out. The trick is to employ training methods and techniques that keep that flame lit.
The jail officer who attends an in service “just to get the [required] hours” in is not doing himself or herself as well as the agency any service. I am not saying that jail officers attending in service training should “jump up and down” in class in enthusiasm or answer every question. What I am saying are that many instructors, both civilian and sworn carefully research material to be presented and take teaching a class seriously. In service classes can enhance our job performances. Attendees should at the minimum have open minds about the class.
I have seen corrections change significantly since I entered the field in 1978. Now, as a retired deputy sheriff, now an instructor, I am still learning. Many instructors are retired and the experience and insight that they have garnered can make training both interesting and helpful. More information is now available about correctional security, staff training, avoiding liability, and offenders-to name just a few-than at any other point in the history of the profession. Also, I learn something in every class-both in service and recruit-that I teach. Many attendees come from professions related to corrections or work in facilities that have effective operations in place.
In service training can now be presented on line, by webinar, video conferencing or by the traditional method of personal, stand up instruction. No matter what the method, staff in attendance hopefully will be interested in learning.
There are some challenges for the in service instructor. They are:
Anyone have any instructional methods that they use? Let’s share!
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