Scouter Training Do’s and Don’ts

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I’ve headed up a number of Scouter training events, and been trained in several different volunteer positions. Scouters are typically gregarious, good-spirited folks; but the dedication and single-mindedness required to be a good Scouter sometimes makes us difficult trainees.

Here’s my do’s and don’ts for getting the most out of a Scouter training course:

Do Expect to Learn.
To get the most out of training you have to be open to new ideas and techniques, even those you have may have tried and rejected deserve a second chance. If you go to a training course thinking you won’t learn much, well, you won’t learn much.

Do Listen Actively and Cooperatively.
As a trainee, I find taking notes helps me follow the course. As a trainer, I am always encouraged when I see people taking notes because it indicates they are following along.

Do Ask Questions but Don’t Interrupt.
Trainers are working from a syllabus, and they are instructed to follow it because they are presenting one piece of a greater whole. Interruptions and digressions tend to work against the momentum and flow required to follow the syllabus. Some trainers are comfortable with taking questions on the fly, some would rather you wait until they reach a certain point in the course.

I keep track of things I have questions about in my notes, and wait until the trainer invites us to ask questions. I don’t interrupt with questions unless the trainer has made it clear that that’s okay.

Most of the time I find that my questions are answered in the course of the instruction and interrupting was not necessary.

Don’t Make Uninvited Statements.
When the trainer asks for questions, it is not an invitation to take the floor and offer your anecdotes and experiences. Leave your agenda, the axe you must grind, and the points you want to make at home.

Trainees sometimes offer anecdotes and statements as an over-long preamble to an honest question. It’s usually better to state the question simply.

Do let the person running the training course have the stage; don’t share unless you are clearly invited to do so. Any trainer worth their salt will ask you to share your experiences and ideas, but there’s a difference between asking questions and making statements.

Don’t Blame the Trainer.
If disagree with a given procedure or policy keep in mind the trainer did not create it, can’t change it, and can’t give you permission to change it yourself.

Don’t be “That Person”
In nearly every training course I’ve run one or two people make it abundantly clear that there only because they were told they have to be there. These folks can act like a two-year-old waiting for their ‘time out” to end. They fidget, check their watches, look at their cell phones and generally act as if they are above the whole thing.

Don’t be that person, please.

Do Accept the Answer and Don’t Argue the Point.
During a training course Scouters sometimes learn practices they inherited are not be consistent with policy or procedure.

Understanding the logic behind a practice requires an agreement with a basic proposition. Even if you disagree with the proposition, accept it for the time being, and see if you gain a new perspective.

Arguing the point courteously can be a helpful way of sorting things out, but begin with accepting the answer and see where this leads you.

What experiences have you had as a trainer or a trainee that we can add to the list?