The summer is almost upon us and you're going to start running training classes for your summer and seasonal staff. Slap on the sunscreen, wear a floppy hat, and get those kids moving!
This is our guide to running effective training sessions. We are going to assume that you are a park district or a large program that has hired a decent sized staff and are running either lifeguard, swim instructor, or all staff training sessions. Your goal is to both create a team and a culture with these people (integrate old and new) and give out a wide range of information that the staff will need to know.
We have two ultimate goals in our staff trainings this summer:
There is a wealth of information about "running a good meeting" and some of the key points are essential for you the manager or the aquatics professional. Remember our two key goals: provide information the staff needs to do their job, and creating a team culture. Those will drive all things, but we'll separate out our guide into three different categories to make things easier for you to plan, execute, and evaluate.
When I worked at my outdoor pool over the summers every Friday we had a meeting at 9am. Every week the whole staff got together for an all staff meeting and training session. Before you get in front of your staff the most important thing you need to do should already be done: know what you're going to say and do.
Have a plan. Sit down or pull up last year's trainings and review what exactly you're going to accomplish in your meeting and training. Know exactly the things you are going to focus on and distill down to the most basic items what the staff needs to learn, know, or take away from your meeting.
Know what you want your staff to take away from the meeting.
Know what you are going to do exactly at the meeting to get that result.
Prepare any necessary materials or flyers before your meeting to distribute or use as props.
I recommend you write up an agenda, or a timeline, or a guide for yourself. Write something down like a list that will keep you on track and provide a guidepost if you take too long on one item or forget something.
In general with all staff meetings I prefer to follow this formula:
We want participation. Remember our goal is to both provide relevant information and training, but to also provide a team building environment so participants feel closer to each other.
I recommend small group activities with clear goals and instructions. You can see our training modules here: https://swimminglessonsideas.com/category/trainingmodule/
For CPR you can write up a clear scenario and allow teams to fully act out in a real way as possible the procedures they'd follow to provide care.
When training for specific skills you can be more creative. If you want to do an activity for scanning, you can put someone in the lifeguard chair, and another person behind them. Blindfold the lifeguard in the chair and have the person behind him throw objects into the pool. The lifeguard then has 20 seconds to scan and see if any object is on the bottom.
Follow this formula for the activity:
when you are done, explain why you did everything. "We played the scanning and the blindfold and throwing game so you could see how difficult and important it is to scan using three-d triage. Remember, the bottom of the pool is the most dangerous because it is hardest to see and most fatal.
Safe Splashes Swim School in Arizona with Teresa Stewart
Teresa has been teaching swim lessons most of her life. She uniquely finished her lesson program while young and they made her a co-teacher to give her something to do while at lessons. She has contributed to the Swimming Lessons Ideas website, and has two posts you should check out too:
Freestyle Kick drill: Motorcycle
How to teach treading water:
In this conversation, we talk about how Teresa is a planner. She runs a successful swim lesson program over the summer from May through August teaching 6 hours a day in her backyard pool. She has two main goals that define her lessons:
#1: Be a positive voice in the child's life.
#2: Teach young to survive when they fall in the water.
These two goals permeate Teresa's lessons and shape how she crafts her lesson plans and determines her purpose. She mentioned that there was a point where each week they'd hear about four children dying in pools. Teresa's goal is to do all she can to stop drowning through fun effective instruction.
We go in depth on the following topics:
My favorite parts of our conversation are where Teresa talks about updating her lesson plans and adjusting mid week for each child she works with. I'm also fond of her wealth of games and activities she reviews at the end.
Thank you, Teresa Stewart!