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Re: [Scouter_T] Re: Valid methods for training delivery

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  • gottshalld@aol.com
    Neil brings up several important questions and comments on a training course that I have helped staff for the past 10 years. First, Neil asks Who GOT those
    Message 1 of 30 , Mar 5, 2008
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      Neil brings up several important questions and comments on a training
      course that I have helped staff for the past 10 years.


      First, Neil asks "Who GOT those people to the training session?"

      The answer is that the trainee did. In our life of ever competing
      priorities, the trainee felt that the training was worth his time,
      money and effort. There is a difference between recruiting and
      promoting. Training committees promote their courses through council
      web site, district mailings, round table presentations, and providing
      an excellent training experience. Commissioners identify and recruit
      trainees through the rechartering process and unit visitation.

      As a trained unit leader, I encourage new leaders in my unit to make
      the time to take training for their position. I state unequivocally
      that the best possible BSA program can only be delivered by trained BSA
      leaders. Do you want to provide the best possible program for your
      son? If so, go get trained.


      Second, Neil asks "How 'bout the people that, for a variety of reasons,
      won't or can't go to the training class. What happens for them?"

      The answer is if they won't go, they have made a the decision, right or
      wrong, that class-based training was not worth their time. As has been
      discussed over the past several days, there are other modes of training
      that are more flexible from a logistical standpoint. These are
      mentoring and self-study. Is there a down side to these modes?
      Absolutely. You lose the group interaction and first-hand experiences
      of other leaders, both trainees and trainers. To a certain extent, you
      lose out on networking opportunities.

      The answer is if they can't go "to a particular course," other class
      opportunities should be made available. This can be done
      inter-district or inter-council. If they can't make those dates,
      mentoring and self-study are viable options.


      In our council, we provide both council-wide and district training
      opportunities. Training committees schedule, staff, promote, and
      prepare for these opportunities. They can be provided as stand-alone
      events both as local unit and as district-wide opportunities. They are
      provided at district round tables, and integrated into other district
      and council programs. I am sure that this is similar to most training
      programs. From this, we can see that training opportunities are not
      the problem.

      Neil is correct. Within my district, which serves 12 towns and a local
      Air Force base, we probably have 25 troops, which register about 400
      adults with a turnover of about 100 leaders each year. We are well
      below the National recommended number of unit commissioners for the
      number of units registered. Several of our district committees are
      "Committees of One or None." The district Boy Scout Training Committee
      has a standing committee of less than five, most holding significant
      unit leadership roles in addition to supporting the district.

      Some of those troops have close to 100% trained adults, many Wood Badge
      trained. Some have none. I have found that units come in two
      categories:

      - Unit thinks that training is critical to running a quality program.
      - Unit thinks that if training was that important, it would be required.

      Some of the latter units also have a culture of not participating in
      district or council program at all. They "do it on their own". The
      "Vanilla" Scoutmaster-Specific Training is offered twice a year within
      the council. The "Vanilla" Outdoor Leader Skills is offered once a
      year within the council. Over the past several years, these courses
      were canceled due to lack of interest or logistical issues. This makes
      it very difficult to fill upcoming Wood Badge courses.

      The course Neil spoke of entitled Scoutmaster Fundamentals Plus. It is
      provided as a district training course and is open to all adult leaders
      within the council. The course runs six evenings, a weekend, and a
      closing banquet. While the course is based upon a more historical
      format, the course content covers the current training continuum for
      the following training modules:

      Boy Scout Fast Start
      New Leader Essentials
      Boy Scout Specific Training
      Troop Committee Challenge
      Outdoor Leader Skills

      It relies heavily on the patrol method, with each participant having
      the opportunity to be a patrol leader and assistant patrol leader,
      participating in a PLC, and leading a patrol meeting. It provides
      background in small group dynamics (utilizing White Stag leadership
      competencies), develops "friendly" inter-patrol competition, and
      emphasizes the importance of a boy-led troop. It provides role-playing
      scenarios in areas of both adult and youth conflict resolution and the
      use of reflection as a tool.

      Hands-on scout skills development is provided in the following areas:

      Knots and Lashings
      Map and Compass
      First Aid
      Games

      Presentation skills are also reviewed and each participant selects,
      develops, and presents "real-life" skill instruction, with their own
      developed aids, to their patrol with each member providing feedback and
      evaluation.

      We are currently in Week Three of the course and have 19 participants
      and a staff of 10.

      A couple things to note:

      - Troops who attend the course have a tendency to keep coming back.
      Course evaluations note the "added value" of the course content.

      - Troops who attend the course encourage Cub Leaders from associated
      packs to attend. Course evaluations note the "big picture" perspective
      of the course.

      - Participants want to come back and staff the course because they had
      fun and see the staff having fun. On average, 20 % of the staff are
      new.

      - Staff provide "lifetime support" to participants. If participants
      have a question or a need, they can call their troop guides. We
      develop relationships over a two month period. This provides a level
      of trust and understanding not developed in a one-off course.

      The trainer that Neil calls out has served his unit, district, and
      council since long before its inception in 1993. He was a Scoutmaster
      for over 20 years. He successfully directed Council JLT for over a
      decade. He is 4-bead Wood Badger and two time Philmont Crew adviser.
      He has served a District Boy Scout Round Table Commissioner, Council
      Training Chair, District Training Chair, and developed and presented
      "Supplemental Training" before that was what it was called, including
      Low-Impact Camping. If commitment to excellence is "extreme", I guess
      both he and I are extreme ... extremely committed to making sure that
      unit leaders have the best possible chance to provide the best possible
      program.


      Scouting is about commitment. Commitment from the Chartered
      Organization to ensure quality adult leadership. Commitment from the
      Troop Committee Chairman to get trained and require training for his
      Scoutmaster. Commitment from the Scoutmaster to get trained and
      require training for his Assistants. Commitment from the Council and
      District to ensure quality adult leadership. Commitment from training
      committees to provide excellent training experiences.


      The frustration comes when some are willing pencil-whip 100 adults a
      year through "training" and consider it a success and that providing a
      tool box of resources for the ultimate Scout Adventure to 20 is
      considered a failure.


      As Harold says "Every boy deserves a trained leader." He is training
      20 now. Who will step up a train the next 20? We have open seats for
      as many as want to be trained in February 2009.

      Just my 2 cents ...

      Dave Gottshall
      Member - Flintlock District Training Committee
      Boston Minuteman Council
      Current Member of 2009 SMF+ Staff - "Laura's Leopards"
      Past Proud Scoutmaster of "Gottshall's Goats"
    • apatschin75
      Said I was gonna bow out, but am intrigued!!! You are running the old format with the new information? Tom Travis
      Message 2 of 30 , Mar 5, 2008
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        Said I was gonna bow out, but am intrigued!!!

        You are running the old format with the new information?

        Tom Travis
      • NeilLup@aol.com
        My colleague Dave Gottshall and I often don t see things the same. This is not in any way bad. He has presented the opposite side of the post which I made.
        Message 3 of 30 , Mar 5, 2008
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          My colleague Dave Gottshall and I often don't see things the same. This is
          not in any way bad.

          He has presented the opposite side of the post which I made. I hope that
          the listmembers here will read both posts and combine the information presented
          to improve training in their area.

          Best wishes,

          Neil Lupton


          **************
          It's Tax Time! Get tips, forms, and advice on AOL
          Money & Finance.
          (http://money.aol.com/tax?NCID=aolprf00030000000001)


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Dan Kurtenbach
          [Dave Gottshall wrote:] The frustration comes when some are willing pencil-whip 100 adults a year through training and consider it a success and that
          Message 4 of 30 , Mar 5, 2008
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            [Dave Gottshall wrote:]
            The frustration comes when some are willing pencil-whip 100 adults a
            year through "training" and consider it a success and that providing a
            tool box of resources for the ultimate Scout Adventure to 20 is
            considered a failure.
            [/Dave]

            But again, missing the point. You're talking about which kind of training has more good stuff in it. Doesn't matter. Irrelevant. The elite, comprehensive course and the standard butt-in-chair course are equally ineffective for the leader who isn't there.

            As trainers in the Boy Scouts of America, our constituents are the Scouts whose adult leaders don't have the skills and information they need to do their jobs. Our mission is to reach and teach those leaders.

            Now, running a training course for leaders who are highly committed to learning is not exactly challenging, and, frankly, not particularly important. Those leaders will find out what they need to know, and pick up the skills they need to have, regardless of how good or how poor one particular training course is. Their Scouts are in good hands regardless.

            The challenge is reaching and teaching the leaders who can't or won't show up at a central location at an appointed hour, or who show up but don't really pay attention, or who don't do well with lecture-type training. Even if those leaders are too busy or work weekends or are lazy or learn better visually or think they don't need any stinking training, their Scouts -- our constituents -- still deserve good programs.

            Our standard of performance isn't how good our training courses are; it is whether we are serving those Scouts by reaching and teaching the leaders who need it.

            Dan Kurtenbach
            Fairfax, VA
          • gottshalld@aol.com
            Dan brings up two points that I would like to comment on: Dan says The challenge is reaching and teaching the leaders who can t or won t show up at a central
            Message 5 of 30 , Mar 6, 2008
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              Dan brings up two points that I would like to comment on:

              Dan says "The challenge is reaching and teaching the leaders who can't
              or won't show up at a central location at an appointed hour, or who
              show up but don't really pay attention, or who don't do well with
              lecture-type training. Even if those leaders are too busy or work
              weekends or are lazy or learn better visually or think they don't need
              any stinking training, their Scouts -- our constituents -- still
              deserve good programs."

              As Neil, I, and others have noted previously, there are at least three
              different training modes available: class training, mentoring, and
              self-study. As part of district or council training committees, we can
              and should promote all modes of training.

              As a district trainer, for the vast majority of my responsibilities, my
              constituents are adult unit leaders, not youth members. What we fail to
              impart to those adult unit leaders is that their constituents, the
              unit's youth, are being cheated of the best possible program through
              their recalcitrance to participate in training; ANY mode of training.

              IMHO, it is not the district trainers responsibility to chase down
              those who choose not to be trained. It is our responsibility to provide
              the best available training experience possible and to promote all
              modes of training. It is the responsibility of unit commissioners to
              remind units of the importance of training and to provide information
              regarding training opportunities. It is the responsibility of the IH,
              COR, and CC to "make" training a part of the unit leaders required
              tasks to ensure that the best possible program is being provided to the
              unit's youth.

              Dan also says "Our standard of performance isn't how good our training
              courses are; it is whether we are serving those Scouts by reaching and
              teaching the leaders who need it."

              To the first part of this statement, I strongly disagree. As a district
              trainer, we provide opportunities for training. That training needs to
              be the BEST it can be. It needs to be engaging, informative, and
              entertaining. At the end of each course, participants should leave with
              the realization that BSA training is worth the time, money, and effort.
              They need to go back to their unit talking about what they learned and
              how it will help them make THEIR unit better. If course training is not
              an option, then another mode can be utilized.

              We know all adult leaders need training, whether they know it or not.
              We know every unit will benefit from having trained adult leaders. We
              also know that we can not make adult leaders take training. They must
              to want to be trained.

              As far as standards go, metric measure what you design them to measure.
              For BSA training, attendance is almost meaningless. As Dan noted, adult
              leaders that are coerced into attending training get a card and little
              more. The bottom line is successful boy-led units, more time than not,
              have WELL trained leaders. Those leaders know the value of quality
              training.

              Just my two cents ... your mileage may vary

              Dave Gottshall
              Flintlock District Training Committee
              Boston Minuteman Council
            • Dan Kurtenbach
              In a thoughtful post, Dave Gottshall outlines one philosophical view of our role as trainers: IMHO, it is not the district trainers responsibility to chase
              Message 6 of 30 , Mar 6, 2008
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                In a thoughtful post, Dave Gottshall outlines one philosophical view of our role as trainers:

                "IMHO, it is not the district trainers responsibility to chase down
                those who choose not to be trained. It is our responsibility to provide
                the best available training experience possible and to promote all
                modes of training. It is the responsibility of unit commissioners to
                remind units of the importance of training and to provide information
                regarding training opportunities. It is the responsibility of the IH,
                COR, and CC to "make" training a part of the unit leaders required
                tasks to ensure that the best possible program is being provided to the
                unit's youth."

                At the same time, Dave notes a big caveat:

                "For BSA training, attendance is almost meaningless. As Dan noted, adult
                leaders that are coerced into attending training get a card and little
                more."

                In essence, _this_ philosophy of the trainer's role is: We can only help the ones who affirmatively come to training with a genuine desire to learn. We can promote training, we can try to convince leaders to come out for training, we can urge them to get everything out of it that they can, but in the end, it is up to them.

                That sounds reasonable.

                But what about the rest? What about all those other leaders out there? Sad -- but not our problem, right? We wring our hands, and ask "How can we get these people to training?" all the while knowing that we can't, or that for many of them, it wouldn't matter anyway.

                This is why I think this view is fundamentally flawed. We should not just write off a large percentage of our leadership corps. For the sake of their Scouts, we should not write them off. If our job is just to teach the easy ones, the ones who would get out and learn what they need to know anyway, then we aren't making much of a contribution to Scouting.

                I don't think the question should be "How can we get these people to training?" I think it should be "How can we get training to these people?" That's not a job for UCs or CORs or IHs. We're the trainers. It's our job.

                Dan Kurtenbach
                Fairfax, VA
              • Dan Kurtenbach
                I would just like to expand a little bit on my last comments on this issue. I concluded that post with: I don t think the question should be How can we get
                Message 7 of 30 , Mar 7, 2008
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                  I would just like to expand a little bit on my last comments on this issue. I concluded that post with: "I don't think the question should be 'How can we get these people to training?' I think it should be 'How can we get training to these people?' That's not a job for UCs or CORs or IHs. We're the trainers. It's our job."

                  The design of our current training system fails, what, 25%, 40%, even 60% [?] of our Scout leaders either completely or to a significant degree because it makes no provision for those who do not seek out training or those who don't have a willingness to learn. And yes, I understand the counter-argument that it is really those leaders who are failing -- both themselves and their Scouts -- by not taking advantage of training. Granted. But that doesn't change the fact that those "training failures" are out there in large numbers leading Scouts, having poor programs, causing some boys to leave Scouting and other boys to not join. Our object has to be to reduce those numbers.

                  Our current system is built on the notion that "Training" offers leaders something that they can't get anywhere else.

                  However, all the knowledge and skill that a Scouter needs (and far more than he could get in any training course) is all around him or her already. It is in publications he already has on hand or that are easily accessible: The Boy Scout Handbook, the Scoutmaster Handbook, the Fieldbook, the Troop Committee Guide, the Wilderness Training Manual, etc., etc. It is out on the Internet in more forms than can possibly be counted. And all of that "real world" experience, and the contacts with other Scouters that are touted as the main advantages of "live" training courses? Well, those same people are already all around, too. They are at Roundtable and Camporees and Merit Badge clinics, and maybe in a Scouter's own unit. It is all there; and a lot of it is available "on demand" for those folks who like their information delivered "just in time."

                  What Training attempts to do is synthesize, summarize, prioritize, and analyze selected pieces of that information, put it in context, and provide the Scouter with an (at least rudimentary) understanding of how it is all supposed to work, what is important, and what he or she is supposed to do. A good training course can do that, and do it very, very well, for a Scouter who is open to the experience. We also know that we have a lot of mediocre and marginal training courses out there that don't provide much help even to the willing Scouter, and we have a lot of Scouters who attend training courses but aren't really engaged regardless of how good the course is.

                  Thus it isn't the training course that people need; the training course is just a vehicle. Rather, it is the right skill, the right knowledge, the right experience, and the right understanding that people need. How leaders get the right skill, the right knowledge, the right experience, and the right understanding is pretty much irrelevant. What matters is that they get it. A good training course can do it for a willing Scouter. I see our challenge as finding ways to do it for everyone else.
                  I think the place to start, for each leadership position, is to ask: What does this leader need to know, and when does he/she need to know it? I think that with that information, we can then begin to understand the learning needs of every leader from the very beginning of the leadership lifecycle. From there, we can begin to figure out how to get the needed skill, knowledge, experience, and understanding to that leader at or before the time he/she needs it.

                  And you know, that doesn't require any changes at all to how we currently do training. So, the folks who think our mission is simply to put on good training courses can continue right on doing what they are doing, the folks who think we have other obligations can do what they need to do, and neither group will get in the other's way.

                  Dan Kurtenbach
                  Fairfax, VA
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