In preparation for assuming an instructional role at the Land Warfare Centre, specifically in the capacity of teaching Subject One Corporal-Army (S1CA), you must embrace a deep commitment, invest substantial time, and gather vast knowledge in the practical application of getting soldiers to understand and apply the behaviours, attributes, skills, and knowledge required of them. As an instructor you have a moral responsibility to constantly research methods to enhance training.
You will be entrusted with the responsibility of possessing an intimate grasp of:
- Command, Leadership and Management (CLM)
- Foundational Instructional Techniques (FIT)
- Permanent Basic Ranges (PBRQ)
- Foundation Warfighting
You must exemplify the very behaviours and skills expected from aspiring soldiers. Within the Army, coaching represents a profoundly undervalued skill, a hidden gem amongst instructors. It has the potential to significantly expedite the trainees' understanding of why these topics are important aspects of being a commander and leader, whilst enriching their learning and retention of these topics.
In this two-part article, I will firstly discuss some facets of performance coaching you can quickly incorporate into your preparation. In part 2, I will discuss some Accelerated Learning (AL) techniques that you can utilise in conjunction with the coaching techniques, enabling you to proactively cultivate and hone these techniques well before your appointment as an instructor. By increasing your instructional repertoire, you shall be positioned to extract the utmost potential from your trainees, thereby fostering an exceptional Non-Commissioned Officer Corps.
An example of effective coaching lies in the art of performance coaching, a method both straightforward and effective in its impact. Performance coaching is the process of helping individuals, or groups identify their strengths and areas for improvement to achieve their goals. This approach revolves around carefully gauging the trainee's present position and their desired destination, thereby fostering a collaborative journey towards attaining the end state.
Though it requires initiative and diligence to design the interventions and tasks that will propel the trainee towards their goal, it remains within the realm of attainable, promising tangible results. It helps an individual hone their soft skills including their personal traits, communication skills and habits, and their hard skills in becoming proficient at certain tasks. In my experience as an instructor, a very important skill I have learnt and developed is the ability to quickly establish rapport with my trainees.
Achieving this connection demands an amalgamation of professionalism, expertise, and approachability. These are elements I consistently endeavour to refine, aware that occasional aloofness may inadvertently obscure this objective. One invaluable technique I have found to cultivate such rapport involves conducting personalised interviews via Big Blue Button or Zoom during the Non-Residential – or ‘Distributed Learning’ – phase of the course.
This platform facilitates mutual introductions and an exchange of insights, granting a deep understanding of each trainee as an individual. Throughout these interviews, I employ a series of thoughtfully crafted questions, enabling me to gain profound insights into the aspirations and motivations of each trainee.
Subsequently, having intently listened to their responses, I empower them to devise two SMART goals, aligned with their course objectives. Crucially, the atmosphere of these interviews is one of reciprocity and ease, fostering an environment where the trainee feels at ease and comfortable. This approach kindles a relationship founded upon mutual trust, safeguarding the instructor's position while ensuring a professional alliance that nurtures the trainee's growth. Below is an example of a performance coaching model.
As an instructor, it is my responsibility to counsel and coach my trainees throughout the course, giving them tools to achieve their SMART goals. Chunking – a cognitive process employed by our working memory – enables us to transform a set of data into more manageable and coherent units. An illustration of this is when we perceive and recollect the series of digits ‘0424600836’ as ‘0424 600 836’, effectively consolidating ten individual numbers into three distinct chunks. This approach enhances our ability to memorise and internalise knowledge, skills, and processes.
In the context of instructional methodology, chunking serves as a valuable tool during the Foundation Instructor Technique (FIT) package for instructors assigned to the S1CA. Specifically, when imparting the lesson blueprint that governs both theory and weapons lessons, instructors can capitalise on chunking to efficiently recall the various facets of the blueprint. This includes the introductory segment; the teaching phase encompassing the explanation/demonstration/imitation (EDI); the subsequent practice phase comprising full talk through, abbreviated talk through, controlled practice (FTT, ATT, CP); and finally the concluding phase.
By initially chunking this comprehensive blueprint, students can develop a solid foundation of knowledge before integrating the specific content and pattern of their individual lessons, thereby gaining a robust understanding before practical application. Additionally, the utility of chunking extends to the assimilation of knowledge within the operations package, particularly the Military Appreciation Process (MAP) and its numerous outputs to then contribute to the development of orders. This naturally flows to the delivery of orders using the widely employed SMEAC framework and the varied acronyms within each segment.
Employing chunking in this context facilitates the seamless acquisition and retention of critical information, streamlining the complex operations process for both instructors and trainees. By capitalising on this cognitive phenomenon, instructors can elevate the educational journey of trainees and fortify their foundational knowledge, ultimately fostering a climate of proficiency and expertise in their corps domain.
There are many coaching methods out there and a google search will provide you with a vast array of information to broaden your coaching ability. Coaching as a tool to enhance training shortens the learning loop and accelerates the behaviours, ability, skills, and knowledge required of future NCOs. Join in me in part 2, where we look at some AL techniques to assist trainees in overcoming learning obstacles.