After 25 years these are the 11 things that we have learned about running an effective teacher training in youth entrepreneurship.
1) Finding a balance between teaching entrepreneurship and the strategies for teaching. When we first started there was a tendency to emphasize the entrepreneurship aspects of our program as many teachers did not have a business background. But over a decade, we realized that there had to be a balance that going over the pedagogy of entrepreneurial education was as important as anything.
2) Integrate all the strategies of learning into the classroom: Group work, Socratic discussion, power points, games, activities, videos and lectures are all of great value. And perhaps most important, never forget to give the teachers quiet time so they can work and think.
3) Find and recruit the the best teachers in the world by making it an intense selection process. This is the key: Get the best and the brightest on your team. Many of the top professionals in the world go into K-12 teaching and some of them are gifted not only in small business but also in educating low-income youth. Finding them, motivating them and providing incentives is the heart of NFTE.
4) Learn to separate your teaching community into two categories of teachers -- the Certified Entrepreneur Trainer (CET) that works with and certifies the child and the CETI that is Certified Entrepreneurship Teacher Instructor. There is actually a different skill set for working directly with kids and the skills necessary for working with teachers.
5) Standardize the training. Once you have multiple trainers and trainings, you need to use the same materials and structure otherwise, it is very hard to measure and do research on your trainings.
6) Treat the teachers well. Have name tags and a clean room with all their materials ready for them. Know their names before they come in and greet them. Have coffee, water and fruit as snacks and a nice lunch. The better the teachers feel about your program, the more time they will spend implementing it and the more likely they are to recruit other teachers.
7) Feedback is the breakfast of champions. Make sure you get feedback from the teachers at the end of the trainings so you can learn to improve.
8) Stay in touch with your teachers and have continual support. Your program is only beginning when the teacher training is up. At NFTE, we have one full-time program manager for every 15 teachers. They organize field trips, teach the finer points of the programs and act as coaches and trainers.
9) Have regular follow-up sessions for professional development. Each of our program managers tries to provide 16 hours of training for our teachers every term.
10) Let the teachers go through what the kids go through by working in groups and presenting their plans. The more the teachers are encouraged to create their own business plan and make their first sale, the better teachers they will be.
11) Always stick to the schedule. So many criticisms of adult education come from the disorganization of the event.
Teacher training is the heart of any youth program. Finding and recruiting and incentivizing the teachers you are bringing into your community will determine the success or failure of your work.
NFTE teacher training at 120 Wall Street. Left to right: Kene Turner, Conner Krone and