Instructor and Trainer Consultant Core Competencies

Training, accountability, adaptability, communication, inclusiveness, customer focus, occupational knowledge, technology orientation

 Alabama Pathways Professional Development System has adopted and adapted these competencies from national training certification programs and various sources within the related fields of service and education employment to serve as a guide for trainers. Training Consultants are expected to have skills in the following areas of expertise: experience and knowledge in the early childhood education and/or related business and service professions, designing learning, delivering training, assessing training needs and evaluating learner achievement.


Alabama Pathways Professional Development System – Goals for Instructors:

The trainer understands the role and function of training as a strategy to help the early childhood education organizations achieve excellence, and knows how competency-based training can promote “best practice” throughout the early childhood education profession.

The trainer has skills sufficient to communicate effectively with the early childhood and child care staff who will comprise the trainer’s audience.

The trainer understands his/her role as a member of the training development and delivery team and assigned work groups, and knows how and when to collaborate with program directors, training managers and agency staff to assure that training addresses identified needs.

The trainer can differentiate between training needs and other types of competency and performance problems, and knows the training system’s proper role in addressing these problems.

The trainer actively pursues self-development activities including professional reading, training events, and active involvement in professional training organizations.

The trainer seeks to develop and utilize skills in serving as a role model and best practice / performance consultant rather than simply a deliverer of training.


Trainer Responsibilities and Competencies:

The following competencies are considered best practice for trainers and should be demonstrated in the development and delivery of training programs. The competencies have been adopted from a variety of sources including Creative Training Techniques’ guides for trainers, ASTD, and the Institute for Human Services. The skills and competencies are also models for early childhood professionals for adaptation in their own role of teaching young children and relating to families and co-workers.

Adult Learning

The trainer understands and can apply principles of adult learning to training development and delivery. This includes engaging learners to identify their own learning needs; helping trainees set personal learning objectives; drawing on and incorporating trainees’ past experiences and expertise; using experiential and interactive training techniques; helping trainees apply training content to their roles and responsibilities in the child care profession and their jobs; and creating practice opportunities during the training session.

The trainer can create a comfortable physical learning environment and orient trainees, including preparing the training room, greeting and engaging trainees, and attending to the social, emotional and comfort needs of the learners.

The trainer knows the conceptual frameworks for describing learning styles; can recognize differences in trainee learning preferences and styles; understands how individual development and cultural background can impact learning preferences; and can develop and use training strategies that address a variety of learning styles and preferences.

The trainer understands the typical stages in the development and mastery of new knowledge and skills; understands the adult learning paradigms that represent these steps (i.e. levels of learning, conscious/unconscious competence;) and can develop training materials that promote sequential development.


Training Delivery Skills

The trainer recognizes the impact of the physical training environment in facilitating or impeding learning; can arrange the training room to promote comfort, interaction, and group development; and can assure that training facilities are easily accessible to persons with disabilities.

The trainer can use a variety of self-management strategies to reduce personal stress and stage fright associated with public speaking.

The trainer understands the impact of personal appearance and dress, physical positioning in relation to trainees, hand and body movements, positioning of a podium or tables, and tone of voice, on both the quality of the presentation, and receptivity by trainees.

The trainer demonstrates the use of name tags/name tents, “ice-breaker” exercises, introductions, and other activities at the beginning of a session to create a positive group climate and begin the engagement process.

The trainer demonstrates the ability to speak clearly at an appropriate volume; can vary volume, pace, tone, and inflection to maintain trainee’s attention; and can avoid unnecessary and distracting vocalizations (“uh,” “ummm,” “you know,” “like,” “I mean.”)

The trainer can adjust his/her presentation methods, use of language, and group management style to achieve the optimal level of formality for the group, and/or to match learners’ level of expertise.

The trainer understands the potential impact of learners having been mandated to attend training, and can use supportive engagement strategies to help trainees identify personal learning objectives and develop an investment in the training.

The trainer demonstrates the use of reflective listening (a best practice technique also for early childhood educators to use with children) and feedback to encourage group involvement, to clarify and expand upon trainee contributions, to guide the direction of the discussion, and to enhance trainees’ understanding of the content and concepts.

The trainer can use verbal enhancers that more fully communicate and explain essential concepts and information, including examples and illustrations, creative phrasing, analogies, quotations, rhetorical questions, and comparing and contrasting concepts.

The trainer can use summation, bridging, and segue to help preserve continuity when moving between segments of the training.

The trainer knows strategies to keep the group focused, on task, and within established time frames, while remaining responsive to group needs and concerns.

The trainer knows strategies to engage and involve trainees who display resistance or a lack of involvement, or who exhibit disruptive behaviors that interfere with the development of constructive group process.

The trainer can use information from written participant evaluations, evaluation summaries, and feedback from trainees and appropriate agency staff to identify opportunities for improving the training.


Experiential Learning

The trainer appropriately uses experiential exercises to increase awareness, modify attitudes, challenge misconceptions, and facilitate learning and mastery of both knowledge and skills.

The trainer demonstrates understanding of the detrimental outcomes of using experiential exercises inappropriately, or placing them improperly in the curriculum sequence.

The trainer designs and develops a variety of individual, small group, and large group experiential exercises and activities that enhance learning and application.

The trainer facilitates experiential activities by clearly and concisely explaining instructions; providing ongoing direction and feedback to trainees; helping process and draw conclusions about the exercise; and engaging in problem solving when the activity is not progressing or accomplishing learning objectives.

The trainer elicits information to evaluate the effectiveness of experiential activities in achieving objectives, and can make needed modifications.


Group Facilitation

A trainer clearly and accurately communicates the goals and objectives of the training; can help trainees identify unrealistic expectations for the training; and can negotiate to achieve consensus about the desired outcomes for a training session.

A highly skilled trainer helps the group members clarify, negotiate, reach consensus, and adhere to norms or ground rules for the training session; and can enter into a verbal contract that establishes the trainer’s role in supporting and enforcing these norms.

The trainer uses group facilitation strategies that promote the development of a safe, learner-centered environment, group cohesion, comfort with risk taking (such as role playing, singing, or speaking before their peers), and commitment to common learning objectives.

The trainer chooses the training strategy best suited to meet a particular learning objective; and knows integrates a variety of strategies to address different learning styles and to keep the training from becoming repetitious or boring.

The trainer can recognize non-verbal cues from trainees; can use active listening and reflection to determine their meaning; and can elicit feedback to clarify points and to determine the level of understanding or agreement.

The trainer demonstrates understanding of the factors that can create resistance and dissension within training groups, including a lack of pre-training preparation; forced attendance at training; pre-existing interpersonal conflict among group members; problems in the work environment; and personal, social, and emotional factors of trainees.

The trainer utilizes a variety of group management strategies, and intervenes to manage problematic behaviors without alienating either the individual or group.

The trainer provides timely, sensitive and relevant feedback to the group, and can challenge ideas in a manner that stimulates creative thinking and promotes growth, while maintaining trainees’ self-esteem.

The highly skilled trainer recognizes, processes, and understands trainees’ emotional responses to training content or exercises; can acknowledge and normalize feelings; can help the group identify constructive ways to deal with feelings; and can intervene to help individual trainees deal with acute emotional distress.

The trainer effectively handles confrontation and conflict with and between trainees; and uses a series of verbal and non-verbal interventions to de-escalate the conflict, explore and clarify the issues, and facilitate resolution, while discouraging disruptive behavior and preventing emotional withdrawal.


Transfer of Learning

The trainer understands the concept of learning as a “process rather than an event” and identifies opportunities and activities to promote transfer before, during, and after the training event.

The trainer understands the roles of child care center directors, licensing consultants, grant administrators and managers, supervisors, program directors and instructors, trainers, and learners in promoting transfer; knows the importance of supervisory intervention with learners both before and after training; understands how organizational or institutional barriers can prevent transfer; and can work collaboratively with others to design and implement effective transfer of learning activities.

The trainer understands the impact of individual learning preferences and culturally based learning styles, and can design a variety of teaching and transfer strategies that address different styles.

The trainer gives relevant examples and encourages critical assessment of how new learning can be applied to trainees’ jobs/roles and responsibilities; elicits examples of practice dilemmas and successes; and can help trainees identify and resolve barriers to application of new learning in their child care center or school classroom, family childcare home or other program or work place.

The trainer demonstrates understanding of the sequence and stages in acquiring and mastering new knowledge and skills; and knows how and when to use mentoring, coaching, and other on-the-job training (site based technical assistance) activities to promote continued trainee development.

The trainer demonstrates understanding of the importance of collaborating with ALABAMA PATHWAYS program supervisors, early childhood program managers, work groups, and team leaders to promote transfer of learning, and can design post-training site based technical assistance (on-the-job) learning activities that promote continued skill development by trainees.

The trainer helps to assess and provide feedback regarding trainees’ acquisition of knowledge and skill at the completion of training; and can recommend additional professional development opportunities, self-development or training activities to promote skill development.

The trainer employs a variety of assessment methods to be used before, during, and after training to measure the impact of training; and can collaborate with training managers to implement comprehensive evaluations of training effectiveness.

The trainer incorporates a variety of classroom activities that support transfer, such as idea catchers, action planning, supervised practice, and rehearsal.


Developing and Using Audio Visual Media and Materials

The trainer designs, develops and/or incorporates a variety of audio-visual materials including flip charts, posters, overhead transparencies, computer generated visuals, handouts, slides, videos, and audio tapes, to enhance the training and reinforce learning.

The trainer selects and incorporates audiovisual materials that best support the content being presented.

The trainer designs, produces and distributes handouts in a logical and organized manner.

The trainer can operate, disassemble and make emergency repairs to audiovisual equipment, including flip chart stand, overhead projector, TV/VCR, video recording equipment, cassette/CD player, LCD projector and computer.

The trainer can use a contingency plan with alternative instructional methods in the event of equipment failure or unexpected emergency, or to accommodate trainees with visual or auditory disabilities.


Computer and Distance Learning Technology

The trainer integrates computerized training aids to enhance training, and can design and develop presentations and demonstrations using software such as Power Point.

The trainer demonstrates understanding of the range and types of knowledge and skills that are most effectively acquired using self-directed, computerized learning (e-learning), and knows how to integrate interpersonal and trainer-directed strategies that support and augment computer-based and self-directed learning activities. Trainers are encouraged to provide a plan for blending e-learning programs with traditional delivery methods that maintain learner contact, including strategies for collaboration such as email games, blogs or conference calls.

The trainer demonstrates understanding of use of computer-based communication strategies such as group e-mail, chat rooms, and list serves, to promote dialogue and interaction among learners.

The trainer knows how to use computer applications and communication strategies to promote transfer of learning and skill building by preparing trainees to attend training, and by providing regular opportunities for follow-up and coaching after training.

The trainer articulates the strengths, benefits, and limitations of distance learning.


Professionalism and Ethics

The trainer maintains a professional demeanor in the training environment, including maintaining standards for dress, adhering to pre-set time frames for the training, and being well organized and fully prepared for the training.

The trainer demonstrates understanding, and incorporates into practice, the values, ethics and standards of the professions and the practice/ fields in which trainees work; and can address and reinforce these in all training activities.

The trainer models standards for adult learning and professional development, including: respect for trainees; supporting trainees’ self- determination; and maintaining appropriate confidentiality, privacy, and self-disclosure.

The trainer knows the core philosophy and values that underlie the trainees’ field(s) of practice (i.e. regulation, program or center administration, child welfare, adult services, public human services, special education, child psychology, etc.); and can integrate this information throughout the training.

The trainer can articulate the concepts of best practice in the fields of early childhood education and family services, and knows the unique role and responsibility of the trainees’ programs, agency(ies) and staff.

The trainer knows the “best practice” standards that apply to the field of practice and competency area s/he trains.

The trainer fully understands the liabilities of attempting to train in competency areas in which the trainer lacks sufficient knowledge, skill, and/or first-hand experience.

The trainer understands the importance of keeping current on laws, state mandates, and practice changes in the fields/related fields of early childhood education and family services, and can incorporate up-to-date information into training curricula.

The trainer knows the laws regarding copyright and plagiarism, and knows how to fully and accurately cite sources for materials used in the curriculum.

© Alabama Pathways 2014. All rights reserved.