Even before the RSGB considered running its, voluntary attendance, training courses for instructors, the BRATS' original principle Lead Instructor ( now would be called the Registered Instructor) had been in many hours of consultation with teachers, who are in main stream education, who train teachers to be good teachers and their conclusion is that the BRATS training methods and course study materials are the embodiment of all current good educational practise. The RSGB have confirmed (Jan 2005) that trainers from the BRATS do not have to attend the RSGB Train the Trainer course in order to provide good training.
The BRATS have been running training courses since the start of the FLC in Jan 2002 and this website has been the back bone of the training since then and completely re-written in early 2003 due to syllabus changes and the web site continues to be updated as fresh ways of expressing the information come to light and to re-act to further changes in the syllabus from time to time..
All BRATS Club courses are run by tutors who have detailed knowledge of their subject, and who are coached by the Brats registered Instructor as to their presentation. At the BRATS Club there is not just one tutor running all the course(s) whether it is at Foundation, Intermediate or Advanced level.
For a training course to be successful not only must it achieve passes by the students but the students must know that the course is being run for their benefit and is tailored to their needs and not just one presentation after another by the instructors without consideration of the mixed abilities of students.
The structure of the BRATS courses and the WEB site has been discussed with educational professionals (those who teach teachers to be teachers) and they consider that the BRATS method of teaching takes into account the most modern methods of teaching to small groups and with simplified and practical explanations for a hobby topic. All this has gone down well with the students over the years.
The goal of all courses is for the students to pass the exam and to enjoy the learning of the knowledge to enable them to pass.
As an instructor you must know your limitations
As in all walks of life you cannot expect to be good at all things. If you have the misfortune to be the one and only instructor in your club, make it your business to change that immediately. You need several helpers who you can rely upon, even if they do not want to deliver the information to students, at least you can ensure that you have back up from others.
Students like a variety of tutors teaching them. Think back to your school or college days - how often did you have a teacher / lecturer that you did not like and thus you did not enjoy the topic. By having several instructors in your team, who can deliver presentations, the success rate of your courses could increase. The BRATS consistently achieve 100% and have a team of presenters and several assistant presenters.
You will have areas of amateur radio that may be you enjoy and those that you find a bit of a bind or where you know your knowledge is more limited. The best courses are provided by those who enjoy not only giving a presentations but who enjoy the topic that they are presenting.
Students like practical demonstrations. There is no easier way to put a point across than by finding a way to explain the topic than by a practical application / demonstration.
Field day / weekends are ideal opportunities to do just that - whether it is showing the changes in propagation, operating practice, EMC or even the simple things like putting a wire antenna together and attaching the feeder and then of course using it.
Ensure that your students enjoy participation -- the hobby is all about participation / conversation and exchange of opinions on principally technical topics. Sometimes a student will be able to explain a topic, which they have just grasped, to another student - encourage this but do check that the information is correct.
Make it fun
Make your presentations fun. There is also nothing wrong in making a mistake in your presentation - so long as it was intentional to check student understanding but do give the correct information prior to the end of the presentation - students like to pick up a tutor on points of accuracy. By doing this they are ensuring that they do know and fully understand the points that you are raising.
Amateur Radio is a hobby and not a way of life. If your presentations are not fun then the students will not see the fun side of the hobby.
Intensity of courses
You must properly judge how much information your students are capable of digesting before the next presentation comes along. This is not difficult at Foundation level as about 12 hour study should see a student well on the way to a pass but at Intermediate level it is suggested that a minimum of 36 hour study would be needed to be on tract for a pass - but the good instructor will judge what time interval must elapse between training presentations.
For the FLC the BRATS have in the past adopted a two day study course but now it is found that students can do most of their study at home and then seek inspiration from tutors at club meetings where any difficult points can be talked through. Further the practical tests ensure that many of the technical topics can be touched upon to give the student confidence.
As far as the ILC goes we found that students wanted a very slow approach - one presentation per month on a different topics backed up by questions asked over the internet email so that the student got one to one training to their needs. A total of 36 hours tutoring achieve a 100% pass rate at a recent exam. A few students wanted to accelerate their learning which is the second option.
The study can be at presentations or by home study. Those students who want to move on with the course can do so at their own pace via the web site course. The students who need your greatest attention are those for whom the hobby is totally new to them and they may have great difficulty being able to remember what technical "words" mean.
When you are looking at setting up a course for the ALC then we consider that you will probably need of the order of 90 to 100 hours tutoring / home study so a course of 9 month would be considered a nice easy pace for students - remember they will all be to Intermediate Licence exam level and assuming that they have taken out an Intermediate licence can be putting into their amateur radio hobby much that they learn on the course (except the Advanced licence condition) and thus learn by doing.
Length of a course
Whilst a course can have an anticipated start date, the finish date should only be a goal date for an exam and the course expanded in time or reduced in time according to the needs of students.
Whilst you may have students who want to rush on with the course they can achieve this via this web information but the other students may well find that they need several different explanations of the same point until the "light" shines.
Are you a good instructor ?
So what makes good instructor :-
Can you be a good instructor ?
Yes but :-
Best of luck from all at the BRATS