March 16, 2022
BY PAMELA BARTLETT
There are many excellent trainers here… but what possibly makes them excellent! This got me thinking, and I there are ten main important skills and tools that I use in my role. Most trainers have learnt by experience, and it can be sink or swim! Hopefully these ten skills can help you to swim.
Have you ever had a really bad day at work where you have got to your training room and the projector doesn’t work, your computer has blown up, the lights are out! Being a good trainer means that you must have the ability to be adaptable and flexible. You need to think on your toes and work out how you can work around these issues to ensure that you can still complete tasks required.
Having said that, I was working on the day we had our first COVID lock down last year in South Australia. It was just after lunch time when the news hit South Australia, I could see the students on their mobile phones, not engaging in class. One of my students explained what was happening and I tried to keep the class engaged, however when student’s basic needs are not being met and they are thinking about what they need at the shop and worried about having enough food/medication for the week and getting what they require before the lock down in 4 hours time. So, my class went home early that day, it was beyond my control and the control of any professional trainer! This is okay and as a trainer we need to focus on students’ basic human needs.
Being adaptable and flexible during this time also meant learning Zoom and ways to engage students online whilst away from the face-to-face classroom. This could be a whole other session! This often-kept students who can engage with technology some interaction and something to look forward to whilst in lock down. Some students were very appreciative that they could continue with most of their studies while at home.
We need to ensure their basic human needs are being met. Having someone from Learner Support to come and engage with the students at the beginning of their learning so that they have a contact for to assist with sorting out social issues, financial issues etc. If you are worried about something, your brain cannot focus and learn. Simple ideas like the provision of tea and coffee and water. Ensuring that there are regular breaks during the day. Every 1 – 1.5 hours at the most. Can you learn if you are busting for the loo?!
Students love stories: about what you have experienced and if they can relate to them, they don’t forget them. I have a story related to person-centered care of a dementia client, where the client I was looking after was always looking for their red suitcase… which I have never seen. This client was on the wrong side of the lock up dementia area and was wanting to go home. I was wondering how an earth I could try and get them back to their room, when I remembered the red suitcase! I said are you leaving without your red suitcase? How about we go and try and find it? Then they walked straight back into the dementia area and into their room! I was so relieved. I had no missing resident! I used person-centered care of the dementia client, and this kept me out of trouble!
It is much easier to teach concepts with examples from real life that people have heard about whether it is from coroner’s cases, things people have read in the newspaper or your may have seen it on the news or in a movie. This makes it real for the students and not just written in a learner guide.
Explaining why students need to know certain concepts. We can teach the systems in the human body, but why do students need to know them? To be able to identify changes in a client’s health and to assist clients with making healthy choices. For some students understanding this topic is a challenge, but when provided with the importance of why they need to know, and what that means for their job role they can then overcome the challenge. Without the why, it is just useless information without a reason.
Some students can go much further than doing their Certificate III or IV and therefore, it is important to make learning interesting and engaging for them at their level where possible. Ensure diversity in group activities because it assists in advancing communication skills, leadership skills and transfer of knowledge.
Provide feedback and praise to your students and don’t be scared to set the bar high in terms of expectations. If is set high, they will meet the requirements needed to complete tasks. Let them know what you are looking for in their work. I often let them know that I believe that they can do this., then they can believe in themselves too! This increases their self-confidence, and they can become more capable.
Tell funny stories from your experience, have a joke every now and then and make role playing fun. If it states that client in the care plan absconds, get the person role playing to abscond when the support worker isn’t looking! It teaches the skills that support workers need to have in the real world. Like being aware of the behaviors of the client in the care plan.
It’s okay to admit that you don’t know that and say that you will find out the answer and get back to them. You will be respected by your students.
We need to reflect on our own practice to continually improve. How do we do this?
Looking at body language of our students: to see if they are engaged and listening. If they aren’t, how can I change this? What questions can I ask? Do we need a break? Do they look like they are understanding what I am teaching them?
When marking work: did the students answer the question correctly? If not, maybe, I will need to explain something differently.
Are the students telling me that they don’t understand? If the students are doing this, you have a very good rapport built with them, they trust you to be able to help them understand. Find a different way of explaining the concepts or use different words or provide an example.
No matter what, believe in yourself and be cool, calm, and collected! This will ensure that everyone else remains cool calm and collected too! If you panic, everyone else in the room will panic! This is also being professional. Being kind…. It doesn’t take much to be nice to people and be kind. This sometimes is easy as a trainer if a student answers a question and it isn’t right, I never say no it is wrong…. Simply ask another student for the answer, or ‘this was not quite what I was after’ but great try!
These are only just a small selection of ideas that can assist to make a fantastic trainer.
We should also consider the tools that the trainer has been provided with to be able to do their job. A quiet room to work in that feels comfortable, clean, and homely for students. Appropriate resources and equipment to be able to work with. We are very lucky at Auctus to have the Skills Lab with beds, lifters, wheelchairs, and many other pieces of equipment at our fingertips to complete performance criteria for training. Friendly colleagues to organise enrollment of students and placements and anything else that I may need for my role. A work environment that is caring, supportive and allows me to work to my full potential!
I would like to thank everyone at the Auctus Team for doing such an amazing job for our students.
Trainer and Assessor
Auctus Training & Education