Too often tactical team instructors show up to training unprepared. They are confident enough in their abilities that they figure they can make it up as they go. The training plan that they worked out in their head or scratched down on a note pad the night before quickly becomes disorganized. They move through the training trying to remember all the points they wanted to cover. Inevitably, they forget an important stage of the instruction and are forced to go back and address the point later in the day.
A training outline is not meant to be a student handout, although it can be. It is meant to be a detailed blueprint that contains training goals with specific blocks of instruction, governed by a semi-loose timetable, that allows for a short but productive training debrief. The outline is the most important tool an instructor can use to make sure that the training is realistic, interesting, and productive.
Start the outline with a brief 10-15 minute lecture. The lecture should cover the purpose of the training, specific goals the instructor wants to accomplish, the pace in which the training will be conducted, and the time allowed for meal and water breaks. Lecture time should be used to introduce assistant instructors, safety officers and to address safety procedures.
Trying to teach everything in a four hour classroom presentation before any practical rehearsal can overwhelm students and cause sensory overload. A well-organized training outline should be broken down into chronological blocks of instruction and demonstration. Dissect the tactic into smaller teachable parts. Start with a basic foundation and build on the tactic with each block of instruction. Each block of instruction should be followed by a practical exercise so that the students have time to rehearse movements before moving on to the next block. Resist having long blocks of instruction before any student rehearsal is conducted. Standing outside in full kit listening to an instructor go on and on can get real old, real quick and can cause an instructor to lose his audience.
Instructors should always try to improve the training and the tactics they are instructing. Valuable lessons are not just learned in the field during operations; many lessons can be learned during training. Students give great insight into the effectiveness and practicality of the tactic or technique being taught. The problem comes when instructors open up the entire training for student discussion on problems or ideas. Often times before any student rehearsal, the debate has already begun about how to do things better or completely different. This discussion is usually counterproductive, wastes time, and throws the training off schedule. The instructor should stay in control of his class and follow his outline.
Schedule 5-10 minute training debriefs after each block of instruction. Debriefs should not be a free-for-all. Instead, limit debriefs to three productive questions and ask each one at a time. First, ask the students what they liked about the block of instruction. In other words, what would they like to see sustained. Second, ask the students what they think needs improvement and how can it be improved. Finally, ask the students what they think needs to be eliminated; in other words, what does not fit the team’s mission and needs to go. The instructor should take diligent notes on student input so he can improve future trainings.
Debriefing after each block of instruction helps to address student concerns while staying on track with the instructor’s outline. It also helps students resist the urge to prejudge the training before they can physically rehearse the technique.