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Ideas for Boy Scout Instructor training

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We are a large troop of about 100 scouts. Many scouts have been frustrated for some time by poor instruction. As an adult it is easy to see the reasons - lecture-style presentations to groups that are too big, no hands-on activity, all due to inadequate planning and preparation. Scouts get bored, and those inclined to goof off have no reason not to do so.


We now have a group of scouts who have seen the dark side of instruction and would like to do better. Our ASPL for Instructors and the ASM who works with them are planning an instructor training session in a couple of weeks. We are looking for some good, specific ideas about ways to teach scout skills that work well for you in your troops. Any ideas?

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First of all, NEVER try to teach 100 scouts at the same time! :) Even I can't do that!


Teach by patrol (i.e. patrol-method) Most boys cannot handle more than 7-8 boys at one time in an activity and there's no reason to hold big lecture style of classes, anyway. Everyone is running around looking for POR responsibilities, get multiple Instructors! If you have 3-4 NSP's then have your Instructors rotate amongst the patrols repeating their lesson for each patrol.


I don't use the EDGE method, I use the KISS method.


All my instructors teach using the same lesson plan format.


1) Get up in front of the group and introduce yourself even if they already know you. This at least gets their attention and lets them know you are ready to begin.


2) Tell them what you will be teaching them in the lesson. A little heads up may indeed hold their focus for a minute or so to see if you follow through with what you said you were going to teach.


3) Teach them the processes. This should take no more than 5 minutes!!!!


4) Tell them what you have told them. A quick review to emphasize the process.


5) Have them demonstrate and/or re-teach the lesson to their buddies, then switch.


6) Thank them for their patience and attentiveness.


My boys seem to get the most mileage out of this process. It's not complicated and the #3 step shouldn't take but 5 minutes, maximum, but is the most important part of teaching. The rest of the "time" is pretty much hands on, but they are not doing it for themselves, when done for a buddy, their attention is more apt to stay on task. The Instructor only moves around amongst the pairs of teaching boys and gives pointers/review as necessary. The boys however, after being "taught" now can take ownership of the process and become involved. The Instructor can also evaluate the boys who might become the next generation of Instructors!



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They are called "Patrol Leaders" in BSA. They "teach" Patrol sized groups at a Patrol meeting. They are trained by a Senior Patrol Leader, sometimes at a Patrol Leaders Conference. They are guided by the Scout Master who can (and will) if requested, call in experts on the subject the Patrol Leaders want to learn.


Or maybe that is just wishfull thinking.





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I agree you need to work as patrols not as a troop. Pls should be able to teach basics to their patrols, with instructors doing adavcne skills.


KISS is goos, I'm a beleive of the old Show, Tell, Do method. Don't use its anacronym.

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Just to recap, I did not mean to imply that instruction is delivered to 100 scouts at once. The boys have typically broken the troop into smaller groups, but those were still typically 20-25 scouts because there were typically never enough instructors working any given meeting to get down to patrol size.


As for patrol leaders teaching, our troop is structured with new scout patrols so the PLs of those patrols are new scouts too.


The steps Stosh set out are standard presentation steps. Those are understood by those of us who will be working with the scouts to teach the instructors how to teach. Thank you.


In fact, please assume that all the faults I set out in the opening paragraph will be addressed - group size, hands on, adequate planning and prep.


What I was looking for were some skill-specific examples of instruction that has worked well in your troops.


Here's an example from our own experience that may illustrate the point.


A new instructor was assigned to instruct knots at the last minute to a group of 20-25 scouts. He started by asking who among the group thought they already knew all the knots cold. When 4-5 scouts raised their hands he pulled them forward to teach the others, then divided the remaining scouts into the 4-5 smaller groups. The instructor then went from group to group critiquing his newly minted assistants. And of course because the topic was knots the interactive component was obvious.


I guess this is maybe more of a group management technique than the kind of training idea I thought I was asking about. And maybe it is just a matter of applying the basics to any skill.


Nonetheless, I'd still love to hear any T-2-1 knowledge or skill-specific instruction ideas that are maybe a little out of the box and your scouts enjoyed.

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Interestingly our Troop of uses the same list as Stosh's. The list was taught in JLT.


1. Introduce yourself and the subject you are teaching.

2. Hold up and describe all the resources used for the lesson.

3. Demonstrate the techniques or skills.

4. Have students practice the technique or skill.

5. Have students demonstrate and teach the skill to another student.

6. Thanks them and release the class.


We also have a rule that a least 75% of the teaching session must be hands on. That rule forced our Council JLTC training to be much more enjoyable and productive.


By the way, we learned that list from the old Wood Badge course. They taught every subject using it.




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NC Scouter,


Generally: One of the most important teaching techniques/elements I've used over the years is to simply get 'em outside. If you're teaching how to set up a tent, do it at the state park, not in the church basement. If you're doing first aid, do it in the woods with your packs on your back, not in the Legion hall dining room. Getting to the place where you'll be using the actual skill helps people focus minds and fingers.


Generally, again: A picnic table is almost never the best place to teach an interactive skill. It's very difficult for about half of the students to see. As a matter of course, get every group away from any picnic tables.


Generally, again, part 3: Don't expect Scouts, especially younger ones, to take notes off the bat. Many kids at that age don't really know what to take notes of - or they'll try to write down everything. But do model good note-taking behavior, and refer back to notes, and they'll start getting it. Remind them of the GIGO principle - garbage in, garbage out - and that writing things down is very helpful in remembering them.


For teaching firebuilding and firelays: This is where small groups are critical. You simply can't crowd 20-25 people around a fire circle unless your circle is HUGE with multiple fires and you leave a giant scar on the earth. Form a semicircle, not a whole circle, otherwise your instructor will be blocking the view of at least a quarter of the people at a time. Emphasize the relationship between tinder and kindling. Have a lot of it nearby or previously collected. To demonstrate fire safety, have different types of scrap cloth on hand to sacrifice - showing dramatically how cotton, fleece, polyester, etc., burn or melt - then ask the Scouts to imagine that same material doing its thing on their arm or leg.


For teaching basic knots: Talk to some local climbers or your council camp about getting some of its old, retired kernmantle climbing rope for free or low cost. Cut it up into 3-4 foot pieces and fuse the ends, then tape. This size of rope is perfect for teaching younger Scouts and Cubs - it's colorful, large and easy for people to follow the twists & turns. Standard 3/4-inch manila is too small and not big enough to see the knots being demonstrated from a few feet away. Make sure the students watch the knot being demonstrated, start to finish, before they try to follow along.


For teaching splices: Wrap the tip of each strand with different color of electrical tape. That helps keep the splicer's work in order. Have some finished examples of splices on hand to show the actual practical application. A splice seems like ancient lore to Scouts who see it as just easier to tie two ropes together with a knot.


For teaching first aid: Most first aid really consists less of hands-on skills and more of memorizing steps and processes. This makes it a difficult subject to teach to some younger Scouts. But it's also where group repetition and yells can come in VERY handy - for example, have everyone chant and repeat the steps for CPR.

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Folks, the training technique we are talking about here is TAYLORISM. It's an analytical method that's been around for a century now. The Gilbreth family (Cheaper by the Dozen) is a story about one such practicioner.


Boy Scout instruction, no matter the words used, follows the pattern:


- Introduce the material. Discuss why the method taught is the best way.


- Demonstrate. Give the learner the chance to see what right looks like


- Allow the learner to perform the task under supervision. Correct, critique, and praise.


- As the learner masters the task, let him do it without supervision.


In the military, its Systems Approach to Training. In education, it's Instructional Systems Development.

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"if the scout demonstrates it right after he learns it that same night? ... or do you wait another time?"


we wait until next meeting to sign after a quick repeat demo. Otherwise, we have found the new skill never leaves short-term memory into long-term memory, but just vanishes.

Even then, reinforcement is needed, such as the need for the skill in various games & contests


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I'm with BDP.


EDGE is not really different than Show,tell, do.


Edge is Explain, Demonstrate, Guide and Enable.


Explain and demonstrate are tell and show. Guide and Enable are do.


Explain how it is done

Demonstrate the steps

Guide learners as they practice

Enable them to succeed on their own


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20-25 boys in the class???? Professionally trained teachers can handle this, but not 14-15 year-old scouts.


The reason one has Instructors is that they are there to teach skills, Patrol Leaders are there to keep their boys organized. Their primary tasks are not the same. A good PL will bring in Instructors and/or recruit up good Instructors to assist them in having good lessons for his patrol members. I have had some excellent PL's that are terrible Instructors and excellent Instructors that don't do very well as a PL. My SPL is primarily the best Instructor of PL's. What good is he if he can't train up quality PL's, after all he has the experience, but he needs to pass it on to the next guy.


While it may be "adding to the requirements", whenever I have the boy demonstrate how well they can tie a knot for example, I ways say, "Teach me how to tie the knot." This way the boy not only has to be able tie the knot, but be able to explain to me as he is doing it. This process assists the boy in retaining the knowledge better than just tying the knot and walking away.


If I have a PL who is trying to get his patrol to set up camp, he can run around and set up all the new boys' tents, or he can teach them how to set up the tents. Of course he can help one boy set up the tent and then have that boy teach the others. All in all, the domino effect of teaching needs to be implemented or one is going to have the problem mentioned earlier that there is a lack of good instructors. All the boys, in my book, are taught to be instructors of the skill, not just demonstrate and forget.


I had one pleasant experience in that I had a new instructor that was taught using my principles of teaching and he taught tying a square knot to a new scout. When the new scout came to me to demonstrate he knew how to tie the knot so it could be signed off, he started out: "Hi, my name is ________ and I'm here to teach you how to tie a square knot." :) They had me pegged, but the boy was prepared, practically gave a verbatim "lesson" and passed with flying colors. I'm thinking this "smart alec" is going to be a great Instructor some day very soon.


I'm never in want of an Instructor.



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