Train the trainer

Being an instructor is not a natural gift and not for everyone.  Besides knowing what you are teaching it is more vital in knowing how to convey that information in a teachable way that can be learned from the student.  When I went through the 6 month Maryland State Police Academy there were approximately 7 instructors varying from the rank of Lieutenant to Trooper First Class.  These instructors were not just dumped on the academy to teach the recruits how to become one of the nation’s finest, but they had to request for transfer into to the training division and then had to be certified by the Maryland Police Training Commission that oversaw all training of law enforcement officers.

6 Months of training in the police academy entailed subject matters far too many for me to remember all of them but the training cadre had to be well versed in order to produce a Trooper consistent with the rich history of the Maryland State Police.  Topics like criminal law and arrest procedures were taught by the same instructor, Dr. JT Zumbrun for every class.  That ensured the knowledge and process was consistent in every trooper that donned the Stetson and hit the streets.  The consistency ensured that the 48 Troopers [we started with 72] that graduated with me on June 25, 1982 were of the same ilk, fiber and make up as the classes before me.  No matter how much you learned you knew that the real learning came at the Barrack level, but the base level knowledge was all the same.

In our industry there is no train the trainer, although  I know that Tony Scotti certifies all of his instructors prior to teaching a VDI course.  When I was chosen to attend the Vance International course the training cadre was the same as the courses before me and, in fact  they remained for a few classes after me.  As new instructors trickled in the training division they were assigned modules that the other senior instructors knew that the new guy could teach.  When he did his module, there was always another instructor in the course monitoring him and chiming in where needed.

From my personal perspective there is a plus for schools with consistent training academy and cadre.   I also feel there is an added value when you can go to their web page and see the pictures, bios and what they are teaching for said courses.  The open book into the cadre shows confidence in the school and their instructors.  That is not to say that those schools who have consistent cadre yet don’t show their pics and bios are less qualified.  In fact, it is not necessarily mandatory to me, but having it gives a sense of assurance of how they feel about their training and what you will get from attending.

Take for instance our school.  We don’t put a cadre up because the instructors are and will always be the same.  Before anything is added, changed or altered WE sit down together and hotwash the idea before it goes to pen and paper and then to the classroom.  Mark has already started new modules that he has traveled to bounce ideas and concepts off of people whose input we value.  People who have operated at the tip of the spear on a global level.  For us ideas become concepts after we really put it through the crucibles and burn out the impurities.  He is constantly making sure the operational value is tactically sound from all perspectives.  We understand that what we teach has to be beyond reproach.  That’s why when you come to our course we teach every module with confidence.

When I dissect videos and pictures it’s because I look beyond the obvious and see what else can be gleaned and learned.  It less of me saying, “This is wrong” but more of me saying, “Look at it this way.”  There is something to be learned from every situation.  We are constantly saying, “Why”.  Why is it taught a certain way?  Why do we do this, why do we do that?  By asking why it gives you a better perspective and makes you a better specialist because you can adjust to any situation   Here is a perfect example of the “why” that I always asked but did not know until I searched for it.

Make sure your training cadre is delivering the product that you are buying into.  Make sure his/her view is consistent to the overall view/perspective of the school and its owner.  Here is an example:  If you are looking to attend an EP school and you look at the company site and it shows videos of the students riding the rails of the follow vehicle.  It looks cool, but you are not going to be doing that in the United States in the private sector.  That is a bowl of Captain Crunch when you should be eating Oatmeal.  Tastes good and looks appealing but not good or  healthy for you.



  1. Elijah Shaw

    Great article with some very sound advice, Eric.

    1. Eric Konohia

      Thanks Elijah.

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