Webinar presenter Dr. Jeff Fox answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Fine Tuning Your Training. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: Do you think that when you teach adults you can emphasize more by using curse words?
Dr. Jeff Fox: I understand what you were saying. I would never do that. I purposely make a habit to not. The only way I would do that is if I’m quoting something. I’ll say quote unquote. I just find it a really important thing to never do that. You’re right. There could be some people who like that. There are going to be some like he’s real or she’s real. I’m afraid you’re going to turn off a percentage of your class and depending on what you teach, it might send a wrong message. There are times if you are doing a performance-based training and you’re doing a shoot don’t shoot or something like that you might see that we’re going to incorporate a little bit of that because we want it to be lifelike or realistic. My policy is we don’t do that. I do understand what you were saying but I’m afraid you will probably alienate more than what you will win over. You might get a complaint too. I wouldn’t do that.
Audience Question: Actually I’d like to share a comment from Bob. He is, I think, by far our biggest attendee of Justice Clearinghouse webinars. I think he has well over 200 attended. Bob is a police officer on the east coast. Bob suggests also you keep a copy of the course outline and keep a log of all training for potential court testimony or future court hearings.
Dr. Jeff Fox: I would recommend, we can have a whole class for that, that you have a great learning management system that is automated. We actually have to go back to microfiche or microfilms. Like I said we have people, they want the record from 40 and 50 years ago. There was a capital murder case they wanted the colonel’s records from that time and the officers’ and investigators’ records from that time because they were suing them. We couldn’t just say that was a long time ago. We have to search for microfiche, microfilm. This person told that. I’ll tell you that comes into play to our investigations. I hate to say it. We had a person who altered an odometer on his vehicle. He said, well, I didn’t know I couldn’t do that. First of all, that’s a load right there to say that. We were able to go back in his training and that was a test question and so he knew. First of all, you knew it because you are a police officer. You also know it because it’s written right here and you got that answer right. Definitely, how long do you keep them? You keep them forever. Every State is going to have record requirements for that but I recommend you keep those 50 years at least because you never know when that’s going to pop up. You want to keep all of that and a lot of your States are going to require that. They are going to do an accreditation. If you are CALEA accredited or different accreditation agencies, they are going to require all of that. You want to have to that and there’s a lot of reasons you have that beyond just for liability issues.
Audience Question: If the student fails a final exam, what’s the good process for re-testing? Is one more chance okay but you have to change the test? You make it harder or just re-organize questions and use different questions?
Dr. Jeff Fox: There’s a couple of different answers. First, this is geared towards the more professional environment. If there’s an academic exam for college credit, then I hate to say, it is what it is. I don’t do a lot of that. Everybody says all of it, that’s different. If there are some bad questions, I’ll reconsider that. Academically, if they fail the exam, they fail the exam academically. Professionally, you’re going to have to see. First of all, you need to have a policy in place and not create one as you go. If you don’t have one now, create one now. Everything you do is about setting the precedent. That’s always precedent-setting. You got to be able to see what are your state standards? What are your agency standards? If you don’t have them, I recommend that you put them in place. For their GPA, I would use their original score. If you have a policy in place, I wouldn’t be opposed to say maybe you have three shots at this. I’ll tell you what they do in Virginia. They have a lot of different academies. You go with your regular testing and have to pass all your tests at the academy but then the state comes in and they give you another test. It’s a five-part test and you have to pass that completely. If you don’t, you won’t get certified. I think they give you 2 or 3 bites at it. It’s about setting the precedent. It’s about having the policy in place. Those parameters are up to you. Do you want to give them a separate set of tests? I would, probably, if it’s professionally based, I would probably make sure they get those answers right the ones that they got wrong, to begin with. I would say not more than three shots at the apple for sure. I hope that gives you some of the answers.
Audience Question: What is your recommendation when you train with the storyteller or someone who is not prepared when I’m always prepared every time for the training? What are some of the best ways to handle it?
Dr. Jeff Fox: It sounds like maybe you’re team teaching. When you team teach, that creates a whole different dynamic. I haven’t done a lot of team teaching but I have done some. First of all, you need to talk about it in advance. You need to figure out who’s going to cover what, this is how many minutes we have. You’re going to need to sit down and talk to the person and say, in the most diplomatic best way you can, hey, I love your stories. I think I want to include a story or two of mine too but we really got to make sure we cover this core content. That’s the best that you can do one-on-one. If you are co-equals, it’s kind of hard for you to tell that person well you have to do this or do that. That’s how it will start off the least intrusive, the least aggressive route and set the game plan, to begin with. That’s how it is in a team-teaching environment. That does create a different set of circumstances. If all they are doing is to tell stories, that’s not going to cut it. If you were to continue you might have to run it up the food chain or worst case, I want to be paired with somebody else. If you can resolve that, you are really only helping that person too. That’s another way of saying hey I think the students really love your stories but we really need to make sure we cover this content. Stories are great if we can apply them. First the content then we can share a story about how that is applicable. See if that works for them that’s the best way I can tell you.
Audience Question: Do you find that you need to need to alter your training based on your audience such as civilian versus worn? If so, how?
Dr. Jeff Fox: Yes. I’ll tell you a story first. I used to do a lot of public speaking for my agency. My first sergeant called me one day. He was a great guy but sometimes you can give information wrong he said I want you to go and talk to a group of Exxon truck drivers, truck drivers for all these big rigs. I want you to talk about driver safety and I said okay. There’s this big restaurant in town. I showed up in my uniform and my material to talk to truck drivers about driver safety. I’m not saying truck drivers are any better or worse than the executives. When I go there this was a sit-down, fine china dinner. There were Exxon executives from around the country. I’m going oh my gosh. I’m here to talk to the guys about how you drive up and down the road and now I’m here with all these high-brow Exxon executives. Their interests are going to be a little bit different than what the drivers are. I had to sit and then while I’m eating rewrite my notes. I had a different audience. Same company, different audience. Sometimes people will take offense. I had people now who said you talk about police officers. I try to mix it up. Yeah, the civilians are going to have a different experience. I would teach ethics to our civilians and to our sworn I will try to make sure I would change it up to a completely civilian environment. Dispatchers are civilians. They are going to have differences in there too. Years ago, I went out with the Navy on a battle group and I came back and I gave safety talks every day. I was an enlisted fellow. My talk was the same for officers as was the enlisted because it was about driver safety. One of the officers said I want you to talk to my men separately from these guys. My escort said that’s not going to happen. He thought these officers didn’t need to hear what the enlisted men did. Quite frankly, I was a little offended by that. I’m an enlisted guy, you know. We’re not dumb. Your audience may change. You do want to change it. You do want to understand it. Not just as a different job but also as a different level of experience. They have different levels of knowledge on this. You do want to change that up before your audience. A lot of your core content might be the same but you want to tailor it as best as you can. It also shows them that you took the time to think about them individually.
Aaron: As you know, we got very multi-disciplinary audience for our webinars. One of the things that we hear back from our instructors, they love getting that 32% of the audience are law enforcement, 28% are probation – they’ll keep the slides exactly the same but what they’ll change are their examples, case studies, and stories.
Audience Question: I found that taking a strengths finder test was a great tool for me as an instructor. Have you ever done that? Is it something that you suggest?
Dr. Jeff Fox: I’ve taken the leadership360 test and that sort of thing but I have not taken that. I had not heard about that. I’m going to look that up. I would love to know more about that. I will look it up. Instructor strength finder test is that what it was?
Aaron: It’s the Clifton Strength Finder. I’ll send you an email with the link that Frank provided and I’ll also put that as a resource on the course page.
Audience Question: I heard you talk about the attitude of both the trainer and the student. Are there ways that you prefer to set the tone with the trainee to make sure they have the correct attitude prior to starting sessions?
Dr. Jeff Fox: When I hear trainee, I’m thinking of individual one-on-one. If it’s either way for me, I’m going to tell him this is my philosophy this is how I think about things. I want them to know me. I want to know them. Probably the best way I’m going to do that is through emulation. In classes, I always start off with my syllabus and I go down through there. We cover it. We don’t read word for word. We cover it. We talk about mutual respect and this is how I want you to learn. If you don’t agree with me that’s okay. Mutual respect is absolute. We’re not going to do things that are not mutually respectful. I just start there. I’m going to show them when I come in there, I’m ready to bounce off the walls because I’m excited, I’m happy. I love what I do. I think it comes through; I want them to see that. You’re going to get students, you’re going to get some who just want, you want to pull your hair out, scream and yell and go wow really? Some of them will actually tell you, I’m only here because my dad’s paying for this. That sucks you know but you don’t say that. You can use humor. Humor is good especially if it’s self-deprecating and it’s on yourself. You should be able to laugh at yourself. You got to maintain that discipline. You got to maintain the decorum. To me, it’s really through emulation more than anything. What I’m not going to put up with is a bad attitude from the student. It also depends on the environment. If I’m a guest at a local academy, I don’t have as much, I can say sometimes I won’t let it go so far. If I’m an instructor at my academy and I’ve got basic students, First of all, I’m not going to have an attitude. If they do, that’s telling me a lot about them right there. Remember, we’re teaching that whole person. I taught at a local academy and they already nicknamed this guy Thumper. He was a Marine who had gotten out. His nickname was Thumper. I was like oh my gosh. What the heck? They nicknamed you Thumper? Because he always talked about what he would want to do. He got out of the Academy and that’s what he did. He got fired very quickly. You can tell a lot from people if you see this stuff, let the academy staff know. Sometimes it’s better to let the academy staff handle it instead of you handling it so you don’t lose that rapport with students. I’ve done that as well. The academy staff needs to be aware of that. If you’ve got attitude problems in there, we’re going to adjust those and make those the correct way.
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