While I worked for Girl Scouts as a training manager for over ten years, I never implemented a sample training program or worked on it during work hours. I actually created it for my grad school class.
It was never implemented, nor did I attempt to implement it. You can consider this a dream plan had the system provided such a progressive training plan.
I’m sharing this in case it inspires you in some way to create your own training plan.
Here it goes:
Introduction to my Sample Training Program
This proposal outlines the goals, objectives, and strategies to implement an online training program for troop leaders leading kindergarten troops within the boundaries of Girl Scouts in Missouri. It will also explain the purpose of the program and the planning resources needed for successful implementation. Finally, the proposal will detail the planning process, instructional strategy, and the formative and summative evaluation tactics to measure and guide program success.
About the Sample Training Program
This proposal aims to present a training program to satisfy a known learning gap that has historically frustrated new troop leaders launching kindergarten troops (personal communication). Clarification of the evaluation source will be revealed later in this proposal. A viable solution to this challenge is a gradual, progressive set of learning experiences that combine continued learning with ongoing staff support. The program will be entitled the Girl Scout University, or “GSU”, and will mirror the progression of a university’s learning stages. The junior level is eliminated to simplify the process for the benefit of volunteers. To this end, the program sequence will include a freshman level, a sophomore level, and concluding with a culminating senior level. The program will be supplemental learning and not required.
The GSU program will last three years; leaders must enroll within three months of launching their kindergarten Girl Scout troops. Enrolled leaders will commit to completing the semesters consecutively. Internal research confirms new troop leaders of kindergarten troops tend to struggle most in implementing the Girl Scout program (personal communication). They need flexible training opportunities that fit into the context of their demanding lives. This self-paced, online incremental training process is a feasible, cost-effective solution.
Why Exclusively for the Kindergarten Troop Leader?
Kindergarten troops are the ideal target audience because the leaders often need the most support implementing the Girl Scout program. Also, as their troop grows, the girls will have use of the fullest range of Girl Scout experiences over time – accumulating badges, friends, and memories. While all volunteers are valued, and all girls are welcome to become Girl Scouts, internal research has confirmed this age level is a pivotal time for new troop leaders, the youngest Girl Scouts, and organizational sustainability (personal communication).
Another reason for targeting the youngest age level is that the leaders of older girls tend to be more autonomous and don’t require as much assistance as incoming kindergarten leaders (personal communication). The Girl Scout organization is sustained by the continuum of younger girls continuously entering the program as older girls age past it. The organization program model cannot afford the consistent loss of kindergarten troop leaders. They must have easy access to the knowledge and support they need to succeed and remain with their troops long-term.
Minimizing Their Stress
Leading a troop of kindergarteners can be overwhelming for some. Organizationally, we need to remove systemic barriers preventing them from excelling in and enjoying the role themselves.
A straightforward training system with staff support will result in girls getting the most from the Girl Scout program and troop leaders remaining in the volunteer positions for longer periods of time. Research has shown organizations that provide volunteer support and training are not as prone to volunteer retention problems (Garner and Garner, 2010). A coordinated training program for Girl Scout troop leaders, such as GSU, could lead to volunteer retention and satisfaction.
The annual “Girl Scout Voices” survey results confirm the need for such a system. Survey results revealed 22.3% of troop leaders do not feel ready to manage troop dynamics after completing new leader training (personal communication). Specifically, troop leaders cited feeling unqualified to manage the girls’ behavior, the troop bank account, and tricky relationships with parents as significant pain points (personal communication). Traditionally, some service units (groups of volunteers in a local community) offer training events covering these topics, as does the annual Girl Scout volunteer conference. However, the survey confirms these episodic learning opportunities are not satisfying the need of the forty-seven counties the organization serves.
A Viable Solution
For the Girl Scouts organization to accomplish its mission of “building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place” (Girl Scouts of the United States of America, n.d.), it is essential new kindergarten leaders understand the integral parts of accomplishing that goal. Learning how to incorporate youth development philosophies into troop activities and making those activities palatable to girls will be a catalyst to realizing the mission. Girl Scouts is more than random crafts or selling cookies. It’s about girl leadership, and leaders want to know how to create a troop culture that expands girls and provides opportunities for them to make a difference in the world around them.
The Girl Scout Leadership Experience (or the GSLE) offers girls a chance to discover new things, connect with others, and improve the world by taking constructive action with what they learn in troop time. GSU translates the Girl Scout mission and the (GSLE) into implementable troop activities and practices. Furthermore, troop leaders will learn to manage their resources wisely by responsibly handling troop funds and creative parent involvement techniques.
The GSU Learning Environment
Since all Girl Scout councils across the country have transitioned to a learning management system called GSLearn, the timing for the GSU program is ideal. GSLearn enables the organization to design countless learning paths and modules volunteers can access twenty-four hours a day at their convenience. The system tracks course completion and automates grading processes, issues, reminders, and learning assessments to enhance retention and learning transfer. Learning transfer is an important part of ensuring that troop leaders can apply what they learn to troop management (Foley & Kaiser, 2013). The system also has moderated private chat rooms leaders can use to communicate with other leaders and Girl Scout council staff. For course design, the organization already has a license for Articulate 360 software will be used to create interactive and responsive content for GSU.
Program Goals and Objectives
One of the two GSU program goals is for troop leaders to learn how to craft challenging, engaging, age-appropriate troop experiences for girls utilizing the Girl Scout program portfolio. Secondly, they will be trained in the basics of troop management, including, but not limited to, time management, overseeing funds, and working effectively with parents.
Program objectives in order of importance:
- Organize a focus group of troop leaders to share insight on their onboarding experience and the knowledge gaps that impacted their ability to facilitate the program effectively.
- Convene a group of internal stakeholders from departments that can support the program effort.
- The planning committee will meet twice a month to plan the program, create action steps and discuss the curriculum.
- Troop leaders will feel equipped to facilitate the Girl Scout program and manage their troops easily and skillfully.
Remember: This is a sample program designed to give you ideas. Please do not copy it.
The Planning Team
As previously stated, existing resources will be used to build and implement the GSU program. Coordinating those resources will be the task of the planning team comprised of six staff members representing internal stakeholder departments. While the training manager will lead the project, other planning team members will be from the outdoor team, the community partners team, the service unit support team, and a marketing staff member.
The staff will be a critical component throughout the lifecycle of the GSU program as they will be responsible for either providing subject matter expertise or directly interacting with troop leaders. Most of the requirements for GSU are already included in their day-to-day workload. This program will simply provide an infrastructure for the staff to work smarter and more efficiently in supporting the volunteers.
The Planning Process
Planning meetings will be both collaborative and directive and will last between sixty to ninety minutes. They will occur twice each month for four to six months before implementation. Microsoft Teams will be used to manage communication and host shared files. The planning process will be evaluated using an anonymous evaluation tool to ensure everyone feels and remains engaged. The planning process may be tweaked from time to time in response to feedback received from the planning team. The team will also plan two focus groups with troop leaders who have been in the role for at least two years and will likely have some experienced-based struggles and pain points to share.
Program Instructional Content and Progression
The self-paced classes will last fifty to sixty minutes, and learners may stop and start at their leisure. The troop leader or the learner must complete a minimum of three classes each semester. GSU will have three semesters each year, categorized by spring, summer, and winter. The prerequisite for the program is the completion of the new leader training session, which provides a very cursory overview of new troop leader requirements. The GSU program will explore the topics learners expressed interest in learning about in more depth. Incoming freshmen may begin during the spring semester and not have led a troop in the previous twelve months.
Upon successful completion of three classes each and one elective in each level, the learner will graduate. A graduation certificate will be available for download, and their troop leaders’ internal system profile will be automatically updated by GSLearn. They will be able to re-visit their learning content for 24 months before the system deletes the content associated with their profile. GSLearn will allow downloads, print, and other ways the learners can capture the instructional content.
It is assumed the GSU program will be an internal collaborative effort utilizing training resources from key stakeholders, including the outdoor team, the accounting department, and the troop experience team. The outdoor team will provide instructional resources to equip leaders to maximize outdoor environments. Fiscal literacy content, such as managing troop funds and budgets, will be designed by a representative from the accounting department. Finally, the troop experience team, responsible for coaching new troop leaders, will author content instructing the best practices associated with troop management.
|GSU troop leader level||Course Options|
|Freshman||Characteristics of Girl Scout DaisiesBehavior-management tools for DaisiesThe concepts of youth/adult partnership*· Troop Money 101|
|Sophomore||Techniques and strategies to sharing power and engaging girls in leadership roles*Parent Involvement Tips· Troop budgeting strategies|
|Senior||Characteristics of Girl Scout BrowniesMoney earning for TroopPlanning strategic outdoor experiences· Managing other Volunteers in the troop*|
GSU Course Offerings
Note: the asterisk (*) indicates an elective or optional course.
Instructional Strategy and Methods
One module building upon the previous one will be the course progression. The information provided during the lectures will lay the foundation on which to scaffold additional learning content. For instance, short videos depicting scenarios the learners are likely to encounter will be used throughout the modules.
The decisions they make about what to do or how to handle the situation will demonstrate the quality of learning transfer. Instant feedback will appear on the correct course of action, and an explanation of a choice was or was not ideal. Feedback is a significant scaffolding tool as it provides an opportunity for learners to explore why one strategy works over another (van de Pol et al., 2010)
Instructional methods will combine lecture snippets, scaffolding, modeling, and coaching. Transformative recorder lectures serve two purposes: to deliver robust instructional material (Poirier, 2017) and provide planning guidelines learners can use in organizing troop experiences and activities. Tests will be administered during modules. If the learner passes with 80% accuracy, they pass the course. A score lower than that percentage results in remedial actions. If a learner is struggling with a concept, the platform provides additional support by displaying the correct response. The system will also take learners to resources on the Girl Scout website, organizational YouTube videos, or a hyperlink to contact the appropriate department to support the learner. Before the student moves on, they will have the option to download checklists or summary documents to reinforce what they learned and to use in the future. E-books and case studies will also be used for learners to interact with content (Dooley, 2005).
Journaling, Learning, and Support
Throughout the semester, learners will be encouraged to keep a journal to ponder the content and to record thoughts or plans for implementation. Automated journaling prompts in GSLearn will guide them to write about their feelings about the content and to link it to their own positive past experiences. Journaling will boost learning transfer as they write about what they absorbed, ideas to implement, and epiphanies (Boden et al., 2006). Journaling will also support purposeful reflection to keep the learner involved with content and to create plans to use it (Foley & Kaiser, 2013). To further bolster learning transfer, troop leaders will draft learning contracts solidifying their commitment to complete the entire three-year GSU program and what they hope to accomplish during it. Periodic, automated prompts will urge learners to re-visit the contract and reconnect with their personal goals and motivation for learning.
Twice a month, the leaders will check in with their troop experience staff member to re-visit the learning contract and discuss feelings about their progress and any challenges or questions that have emerged. Check-ins and coaching are already requirements for troop experience staff. Supporting GSU students will be a logical charge for them, considering they must engage them in a similar way. Further, it will prevent learners from feeling isolated or alone during a semester. Informal evaluation questions will also be incorporated into check-ins. They will explore and record what learners appreciate about the GSU process and ensure they feel valued and supported throughout it. The results will be compiled in a monthly report submitted to the training manager.
Several methods will evaluate GSU, including surveys and reported data from the GSLearn learning management system. Upon entering the program, troop leaders will complete pre-program surveys to gauge existing knowledge relative to the training topics. During each level (freshman, sophomore, and senior), troop leaders will have chances to assess their program experience, class content, and mode of delivery. At the conclusion of the program, a summative electronic program evaluation will be administered. Troop experience staff will conduct virtual or verbal exit interviews within two to three weeks of the graduation period.
The evaluation results will be compared with program goals and objectives written before the program launch. Key indicators for learning transfer will be what troop leaders say and what they do. During check-ins, troop experience staff will listen for comments and responses indicating troop leaders have mastered key concepts. The indicator for improved performance (or what troop leaders will do) will take longer and may be impossible to assess. Some markers for success will be retention, assuming other volunteer roles, and advancing girls through badge levels. Finally, well-organized financial statements, no pings on troop banking accounts, and engaging girls in other council-wide activities will also be fundamental indicators.
Impact Measurement and Contingency Plan
To determine program efficiency and effectiveness, formative evaluations will be conducted throughout the semester. If the evaluations indicate the GSU program is not reaching desired goals or milestones associated with them, the planning team will analyze potential causes such as a systemic issue, instruction, or the training delivery process. When possible or necessary, the outcomes will be renegotiated and re-designed. Three times a year, the planning team will analyze the survey results. Pressing or urgent problems will be handled at the training manager’s discretion. Evaluation results requiring a change of course or action will be translated into timed action steps and shared with appropriate departments.
This combined strategy of self-directed learning and a supportive staff system will build competencies for new kindergarten leaders and increment them into the Girl Scout culture. This approach will equip leaders for their volunteer roles and be a catalyst for relationships and interactions with staff, other leaders online, and the GSLearn learning management system which will be the learning platform for the duration of their volunteer service.
What do you think about my sample training program? What’s missing? Have you written a sample training program before?
Boden, C. J., Cook, D., Lasker-Scott, T., Moore, S., & Shelton, D. (2006). Five Perspectives on Reflective Journaling. Adult Learning, 17(1–4), 11–15. https://doi.org/10.1177/104515950601700105
Dooley, K. E. (2005). Advanced Methods in Distance Education: Applications and Practices for Educators, Administrators and Learners. Information Science Publishing.
Foley, J. M., & Kaiser, L. M. R. (2013). Learning Transfer and Its Intentionality in Adult and Continuing Education. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, (137), 5–15. https://doi.org/10.1002/ace.20040
Garner, J. T., & Garner, L. T. (2010). Volunteering an Opinion. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 40(5), 813–828. https://doi.org/10.1177/0899764010366181
Poirier T. I. (2017). Is Lecturing Obsolete? Advocating for High Value Transformative Lecturing. American journal of pharmaceutical education, 81(5), 83. https://doi.org/10.5688/ajpe81583
Van de Pol, J., Volman, M., & Beishuizen, J. (2010). Scaffolding in Teacher-Student Interaction: A Decade of Research. Educational Psychology Review, 22(3), 271-296. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-010-9127-6