Conducting Training

Training involves the use of adult learning strategies to provide teachers and other staff with essential information they need to begin using a new program or method.2 This is a time to introduce skills and concepts associated with the new practices. Because most educators and early intervention providers have had no, or only limited, prior training on deaf-blindness, state project staff often find that they must also provide basic information, or "Deaf-Blind 101."

Preparing to provide training typically includes:

  • Using needs assessment findings to identify the training needs of team members
  • Identifying the type of learning that is required:17
    • Knowledge based 
    • Skill based 
    • Attitude based
  • Writing concrete, measurable learning objectives
    • Breaking content into concise components makes learning easier. The more complex something is, the harder it will be for the team to implement.14
    • Effective Adult Learning under “Tools” includes excellent, user-friendly information about developing learning objectives.
    • If the training will involve teaching specific practices, learning objectives should relate to the key components of the practices that were defined in Selecting Practices or Programs for the Team to Implement (Exploration Phase).

Advice from Colleagues

When I provide training, I like to find out from team members whether they are engaged in other professional development activities at the same time. If they are, I will have a conversation with them about the content of the other training and whether it aligns with what they are learning from me. This allows me to clear up any confusion they may have and, whenever possible, relate the other training to what I am providing.

The delivery method used depends upon the purpose of the training (i.e., learning objectives), the number of participants, and available resources.17 Training that consists of one-on-one or small-group interactions between the TA provider and team members overlaps with consultation and coaching as described in Employing Skill Development Strategies. 

Possible delivery methods include:

  • In person (one-to-one or small group)
  • Workshop or other group-based training (away from the child’s educational setting)
  • Distance (e-learning)
  • Provision of information for self-study

When training on introductory topics (e.g., overview of deaf-blindness), it is often more efficient to either:

  • Hold a single large-group event for personnel from multiple sites and teams
  • Ask team members to complete a distance learning module

Advice from Colleagues

Often we walk into situations where we are starting from scratch and there are no personnel who have any training in deaf-blindness. In this situation, I have found that having the team gain some basic background knowledge prior to on-site visits can be helpful. I now use an online module or send a resource appropriate to the topic for them to read or complete ahead of time. This makes it possible to devote on-site or distance TA time to child-specific strategies rather than general information.

Tools & Resources

Select content and instructional methods for each learning objective.1, 4, 20 Options include:17

  • Small-group discussions focused around case studies
  • Lectures
  • Simulations
  • Experiential learning
  • Self-study (e.g., use of a module)

Advice from Colleagues

Instead of developing training, check to see if there are existing training options that address identified learning objectives, such as:

  • Online modules
  • Webinars
  • Videos or webcasts

To avoid overwhelming team members with too much information, it is usually best to share short, to-the-point items. This depends, however, on each individual’s preferences. Some people learn best by reading and prefer detailed resources.

Types of materials you might provide include:

  • Step-by-step written instructions on how to do each practice or intervention
  • Manuals
  • Guidelines
  • Factsheets
  • Articles

Advice from Colleagues

I like to be able to provide a peer-reviewed article for the administrator, a detailed handout with illustrations and a sequence of steps for staff on how to do the intervention, and clear handouts at various reading levels for family members.

Explore opportunities to link the training you provide to CEUs (e.g., ASHA, ACVREP) to encourage practitioners to participate.20 This is more of a systems-change strategy than something that would be done for an individual TA case, but it may be worth looking into for use across cases. The difficulty of getting this type of systemic change in place will vary from state to state.

Advice from Colleagues

Offering CEUs and certificates of completion for professional development activities is key for buy-in—not only from the professionals themselves, but also from administrators.
The ease of getting approval for CEUs depends on the professional organization. For example, for sign language interpreters it is quite easy and very low cost. You simply have to find an approved sponsor and submit the appropriate paperwork. For larger organizations it can be extremely time consuming and costly. You will want to find someone who is affiliated with the appropriate professional organization and knows the procedure through and through.

Tools & Resources