Leadership Spotlight 

Lunchtime Learning Seminars: Benefits and Steps to Get Started  

Stock image of three people sitting at a table eating lunch at work.

Law enforcement training centers often have no standardized professional development training for instructors. Organizational leaders who proactively facilitate workplace learning opportunities among their instructors through professional development programs can promote organizational change and growth within their departments and throughout the law enforcement profession. Instructional leaders who teach adults need formal support and guidance in adult learning theories to develop themselves further and improve their work products. Such a program should provide formal and informal professional development training activities. One option involves implementing a lunchtime instructional leadership skills program.

A program that offers training during lunchtime can provide short sessions of various facilitation leadership skills instructors could implement immediately into their instructional delivery techniques. Short workshops could provide recommendations of techniques instructional leaders can capitalize on involving their unique skills. They also could help improve instructors’ confidence and promote personal leadership growth. By following several steps, agencies easily can develop, implement, and evaluate lunchtime training.

Employees with a background in professional or instructor development successfully can manage and guide the program. They should collect information about the types of professional development training already available. Next, they should query instructors about the topics they would like offered.

Seminars on identified topics could be delivered during working hours and provide information instructional leaders could apply immediately in their classes. Subjects may include, for instance, skills development for instructors, modern techniques for adult teaching styles, and current policy updates. Both part- and full-time instructors could attend on a space-available basis. If the organization has a computer-network-based learning portal, interested employees could register online for the lunchtime seminar. An instructor development database could capture the various professional development activities in which instructors participated in support of state or national continuing education certifications.

During the seminars, the program manager should maintain journal notes of questions participants ask, recommendations about the process and seminar topics, and questions presented by the speaker and senior instructional leaders in attendance. Participants should complete a paper survey at the end of the seminar, and the program manager should e-mail a follow-on survey a few days after the training.

The criteria of success established for this activity would be positive feedback comments of interest in the training topic. Personnel who register to attend another lunchtime seminar may indicate positive reception of the lunchtime seminar program as an instructional leadership learning activity. The lunchtime learning seminar may inspire a personal change process for instructors and positively influence their instructional leadership through changes they make based on what they learned from both their colleagues and the speaker.

By offering lunchtime training seminars during the workday and on-site, instructional schedules are not interrupted, and the training occurs in short blocks of time. Typically, logistical organization of these events is simple. Seminar topics should be geared toward the desires of the instructors and advertised well in advance of the training date. These seminars offer instructors not only a professional development opportunity but one in which they can interact with each other and participate in tailored discussions and collaborations for new leadership-in-training ideas. The program manager should continue to collect feedback from instructional leaders following each seminar in an attempt to improve logistical coordination and promote buy in from those reluctant to attend or participate. These lunchtime programs may help instructors blend current adult learning techniques with the subject matter. Further, the programs are essential to instructors’ personal and professional leadership development if they expect to stay proficient in modern developments of their subject-matter expertise and effective techniques to impart knowledge to their students.

“These easily developed and implemented seminars can offer tremendous training opportunities to agencies.”

Special Agent Kelly O’Malley, the faculty development program manager in the Law Enforcement Development Unit at the FBI Academy, prepared this Leadership Spotlight.