Helping Your Staff Make the Most of Training
Training can often be percieved as a burden rather than a asset. Listed below are tips to help early education directors make the most of professional development and help staff retain the information learned in training sessions.
Stress training as an investment: The reason training is often lost at many schools is because it is thought of as a requirement rather than an investment. While it's true that training is required, it is a long-term investment in the growth and development of your staff and school.
Train based on need: Many schools do not have unlimited time or funds to train as much as you would desire. Focus on what the needs are and areas of growth. What training will meet your long-term goals? Determine what skills are most important and what will give you the biggest return. Ask yourself, "Will this training be beneficial to our school"?
Promote a culture of learning: In today's fast-paced world, if a school isn't learning, it's going to fall behind. A business learns as its people learn. Communicate your expectations that all employees should take the necessary steps to hone their abilities and stay on top of early childhood skills and knowledge. Make sure you support those efforts by providing the resources needed to accomplish this goal.
Get management on board: Once you have developed a prioritized list of training topics that address the needs and goals of the school, you must motivate management to rally behind the initiative. Management attendance in all training is imperative to motivate staff and hold them accountable for what was learned.
Start out small: Before rolling out your training plan to the entire school, rehearse with a small group of individuals and gather feedback. This form of informal benchmarking exposes weaknesses in your training plans and helps you fine-tune the training process.
Choose quality instructors and materials: Whom you select to conduct the training will make a major difference in the success of your efforts, whether it is a professional instructor or a knowledgeable staff member. Having the right training materials is also important. Use materials that can be used as a valuable resource once the training is over.
Find the right space: Select a training location that's conducive to learning. Choose an environment that's quiet and roomy enough to spread out materials. Staff learns best when training is held off sight and away from the early childhood program. Staff needs to be away from everyday distractions in order to learn. Design your training and space to meet the needs of both visual and auditory learners.
Connect to the Job Description: Some employees may feel that the training they are receiving is not relevant to their jobs. It is important to help them understand the connection early on, so they don't view the training as a waste of time. Employees should see the training as an important addition to their professional development.
Make it ongoing: Don't brand training solely as a way to meet state guidelines and requirements. Organized, ongoing training programs will maintain all employees' skill levels, and continually motivate them to grow and improve professionally.
Measure results and hold staff accountable: Without measurable results, it's almost impossible to view training as anything but meeting state requirements. Determine how you're going to obtain an acceptable rate of return on your investment. Determine what kind of growth is a reasonable result of the training you provide. You will have an easier time encouraging training in the future if you can demonstrate concrete results.
Schedule a variety of trainings: Don't only focus on training staff on new topics and skills, but training on popular topics can also motivate staff and validate their current skills and perfections. Validation is sometimes more valuable than learning new techniques.
Repetition: Certain topics, especially those focused on health, safety and supervision must be trained annually. Use scenarios and mistakes as opportunities to learn.
Keep it interesting: 77% of communication is body language. Tone of voice keeps participants attention. Your excitement and passion will engage learning and make training memorable. Avoid standing in one place. Moving around creates anticipation.
Use and quote experts: Let your trainees know the source of the material. Quoting professionals in the field gives your training value. Respected resources will always engage learners.
Use vendors: Invite representatives of materials used in your program to do presentations or training on their products. This will help staff understand the importance of using these resources and how to use them the correct way. This prevents staff and management from making assumptions on the use of the products.
Journals: Have each staff member create a Professional Development Journal. Document knowledge learned, engaging and memorable quotes, and questions. Instruct staff to refer back to this journal when working with performance. Document successes and experiences in the classroom when implementing techniques learned in training.