Monday, October 8, 2012

For The Trainers:

 By Bryan Avila, Backgate Contributing Author

As a trainer, there are many things we need to do prior to any class. These may include reviewing all the course material, making sure we have all the training aids and all the good stuff that we already do. We strive to do the best that we can in the classroom or whatever environment we will be training in that day.

My question to you is: Is that all you do? When was the last time YOU increased your knowledgebase? When was the last time you took care of yourself?

Most of the time we do not think of any of this. We may go to different trainings and learn a few new things, but for the majority of us, that is it. Depending on what type of agency you work for, you may be a trainer in a few areas. In other agencies, you may be an instructor in just about everything.

I'll use myself as an example for both so bear with me. While I was working for Vermont DOC, I was an instructor in OC and Fire Safety. I taught mostly at the facility on a quarterly basis (training was conducted this way) while continuing to work shift the rest of the time. It was relatively easy for me to find the time to read different articles, etc about anything that I was interested in.

Now, working in Texas is a totally different ballgame. My fulltime job is as an instructor. We get to teach everything: CPR, first aid, defensive tactics, classification, restraints, communication, firearms, chemical agents, transport procedures, Safe Prisons (PREA), con games plus anything else that is there. And let's not forget about in-service as well. Finding the time to read something new was a lot harder to do.

Sure, I could do it at home without a problem since I have a computer. I would also be neglecting my family since I am extremely Type A (hey, as instructors, we are all type A personalities. We have to be). I also had my business that I needed to keep up with as well. I would start in on something and forget the world existed until it was complete. I had to find the right balance.

My knowledge was getting stale. Yes, I would know the material that I taught. Yes, I kept on reading the lesson plans to make sure I wouldn't miss anything. I had been looking for a way to learn more and more so I wouldn't feel like a cereal box that was left open for a month. I wanted to challenge myself. It was not a matter of being better than anyone else.

I work with an outstanding group of instructors. Arguably the best. I will have them go toe to toe with anyone else. I just wanted to be better than who I was. I was not happy where I was as an instructor. I was becoming complacent. Not good for all.

I knew about a few sites in which I could get some more training. Some of them free, some of it not so free. Probably one of the best ones I found was for the National Institute of Corrections. They have so many classes that I could do online, at my pace and it would not cost me anything. What an awesome resource for trainers!

The only limitations that we have are the ones that we place on ourselves. I can't blame anyone else for the stale knowledgebase that I had. It was my own doing. My own laziness.

The status quo cannot remain as it is. We must continuously move forward. We are the experts in our field. People depend on us to teach them. Guide them. Help them.

Are we where we want to be as trainers? Where do we want to be as trainers? I can tell you this, I know where I want to be and I also know I am not there. Still have a very long way to go. I have not achieved my full potential. Have you? 


  1. I don't know about this thing but I know there's a crooked night lieutenant Clemens

  2. The TDCJ training Dept. is lost the curriculum is dull and outdated there is no vision in the Dept. The equipment is outdated, the classrooms or lack of are second rate. Anyone that was worth a crap in HV has left the Training Dept due to lack of real leadership and vision. Its time they take a close look at this Dept. and the people running it. Either put the money into it or shut it down and go back to the colleges running it again. There are good people in the training Dept but they are being held back from doing there job by the political atmosphere that is TDCJ