3 Confident Trainer Traits

You haven’t taught until they’ve learned… ~ Coach John Wooden

Trainers and eductaors come in all shapes and sizes and from a wide array of backgrounds.  That diversity of skill and experience is often the source of great training.  But regardless of the topic and a person’s individual teaching style here are three behaviors of confident trainers.


1. Confident trainers maximize the moments before training officially starts

Neil Honkala was conducting a Mechanical Breaching Instructor Course in Wayne, NJ in 2017 – just a few miles from NYC Ground Zero. The students brought him a Taylor Ham and Egg sandwich and he took advantage of the opportunity to ask them about their 9-11 stories.

Most instructors arrive in plenty of time to set up and test the AV support.  They have a minute to run through their presentation, etc.  But as participants begin to arrive the confident trainers reveal themselves.  We encourage trainers to greet every person as they walk in the room whenever possible.  The best instructors realize that the rapport building begins the moment the student arrives and learning is best achieved with a strong relationship.  Sometimes the best icebreaker is simply a casual conversation – try to involve the majority of the room.  Try to read the participant level of interest in the topic if possible.  At a minimum, confident trainers establish that they are comfortable and able to engage the learners.


2. Confident trainers encourage conversation and questions.

During the Range Master Course, Mike Johnson encourages participants to bring up real-world concerns for their agency’s range. Knowing there is no possible way to have all the answers he allows time and space for the students to explore the issue as he guides the discussion to a learning outcome.

In most MIL/LE training there is plenty of room for facilitated conversation and confident trainers leverage every opportunity.  They keep in mind the outcomes of the training as the conversation unfolds and focus it on learning allowing for guided discovery of key points.  Leveraging small groups and using a “Think-Pair-Share” approach is another technique that allows for guided discussion.


3. Confident trainers experiment and change things up.

Gary Monreal and Jim Phillips use a FITLIGHT training system during the 2018 ENFORCETAC Training Conference in Nuremberg, Germany. Team One Network has used force-on-target training techniques for a long time but technology like FITLIGHT and Auto Target from Action Target take it to a whole new level.


We’ve all seen the slide pop up during training with a date on it from several years ago.  And even if the date is missing or updated the slides are exactly the same as the last time we sat through this training.  Confident trainers are willing to lean into the discomfort of changing the slides or even better – scrapping them altogether.  They freshen up the videos and use the most current statistics.  But more importantly – they push the envelope of the traditional learning environment completely.  Nearly everyone has a device connected to the internet while they’re in the classroom or training area.  Confident trainers maximize access to the internet on these devices and encourage students to take online surveys, watch videos in small groups, or search the internet for facts in question.