To Train or Not to Train

OCT. 10, 2013

NAMI’s annual Training of Trainers trains over 100 NAMI teachers and facilitators from NAMI signature programs across the country to become state trainers. These new state trainers are then qualified to return to train new teachers and facilitators in their state, thus growing NAMI signature programs tremendously. A select few are trained to become national trainers for this annual event.

Martha Silva is the Director of the NAMI New Jersey en Español Program and continues to act as a teacher for De Familia a Familia de NAMI (NAMI Family-to-Family in Spanish) and Bases y Fundamentos de NAMI (NAMI Basics in Spanish). Martha has been a national trainer for De Familia a Familia since 2005 and will be training again in the NAMI education department National Training of Trainers this March.

Martha first got her start with NAMI in 1998 as a volunteer teaching NAMI Family-to-Family at the NAMI Hudson Affiliate in New Jersey. Martha and her colleagues at NAMI Hudson saw the need for Spanish-language programs and began a Latino outreach program in 2000. This program became NAMI New Jersey en Español, which expanded their outreach efforts statewide. Shortly thereafter, Martha participated in TT and became a state, and later, national trainer for De Familia a Familia de NAMI. Here she describes her experience as a trainer:

“To train or not to train, that’s the question that, I’m sure, goes through the mind of many family members who would like to teach, or many teachers who would like to become state trainers.  Most of them understand the immediate need for trained leaders, but are concerned with the elemental question, ‘Can I do it?’

I feel that if anybody can talk about being worried and afraid, I certainly can. Many years ago, Norma Bangs, a De Familia a Familia teacher from NAMI Texas, and I were trained to become national trainers by Dr. Joyce Burland, at the NAMI office in Arlington, Va. As a matter of fact, only the two of us were trained that year to become national trainers for De Familia a Familia, so you can imagine how intimidated I felt.  Despite my hesitation, understanding how much I could help so many families that I knew were in need of information, just like I was, gave me the courage to participate in the training. To this day, I continue to train new leaders and I still feel the same need to prepare, just as much as I did for my first training.

It is true that the De Familia a Familia manual can be frightening due to the scope of the material and this can raise many doubts. However, under more careful observation, those doubts turn out to be unjustified reflections of fear and dissipate quickly. The material that may not make sense during the training comes together when you get home and take the time to read the instructions and prepare for your first training. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Gosh, what am I going to do when I need to present difficult material to the class during training?’ The truth is no one is expected to be perfect or give an impeccable presentation. Training worries everyone, it’s not just you, and recognizing this will give you confidence.

In my many years of training, I’ve had several unexpected experiences. Some participants have had a hard time maintaining eye contact and others were not able to read in Spanish very well, but by the time they finished the training, their improvement was obvious, and their confidence grew. One training memory that I’ll never forget is of a group that wrote their own NAMI Family-to-Family hymn and sang it at graduation.

Training is a lot of work, but it is also fun and, more than anything, very rewarding.”

More detailed information about participating in this year’s Training of Trainers can be found at www.nami.org/ttinfo. The deadline for registering is Feb. 1, 2013.

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