It's been said, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." As a former teacher and trainer, I believe I join the resounding voices of other teachers and trainers in a collective "you must be nuts if you believe that!" Teaching is one of the most rewarding and most challenging professions one can enter. No matter what the topic is you are teaching, being able to organize a class, prepare relevant lessons, activities, and assessments is a challenge to do correctly. Not only do you have to prepare the relevant content for each class, you must be able to assess the current abilities and motivations of your students and then teach to these needs. In the world of technical training, a trainer has to know his or her IT knowledge better than most, but, increasingly, trainers are expected to have hands-on experience with the technologies they teach—plus all the answers to every question imaginable! So, I posit that we change our initial statement above to say, "Those who can, do—AND teach"! To stay with our teacher motif, let's take a deeper look at a fast gaining technical trainer certification offered by CompTIA, the CTT+ certification.
The CTT+ Certification
CTT stands for Certified Technical Trainer, and it is a vendor-neutral certification offered by CompTIA, makers of the popular A+, Network+, and Security+ vendor-neutral exams. CompTIA holds the CTT+ credential as a high standard attained by technical trainers who have exceptional instructor knowledge, classroom performance, plus exceptional communication and presentation skills.
The exam is made up of two parts that you must successfully pass. The first part is a standard test made up of 95 identification and situational multiple-choice questions with a time limit of 90 minutes for completion. The second part is a video of you teaching a class. The video must be 20 minutes long and you must demonstrate your actual teaching abilities for assessment by the CompTIA board.
Now that you have a general idea of what the CTT+ exam entails, let's look at the exam in more detail.
What's on the CTT+?
First, let's explore the objectives you will need to master for the written exam. The following table introduces you to the five domains that encompass the written exam, along with the percentages each domain makes up of the entire exam:
|Domain||% of Exam|
|1.0 Planning Prior to the Course||13%|
|2.0 Methods and Media for Instructional Delivery||14%|
|3.0 Instructor Credibility and Communications||9%|
|4.0 Group Facilitation||45%|
|5.0 Evaluate the Training Event||18%|
This domain entails some critical aspects teachers of all disciplines must have. Here, you will be examined on your abilities to assess and configure the classroom environment for the maximization of learning. This entails both physical and non-physical environment factors. Are computers and projection equipment placed and work correctly? Are student seats in optimal positions? Is the room temperature too hot or cold? These are just a few of the items you will be responsible for correctly answering and providing solutions to.
Also, this domain assesses your ability to determine student needs, abilities, and motivations for the class. Once you determine these, you are also expected to know how to develop and tweak your lessons and class objectives to meet the needs of your students. This requires some considerable planning time once you know what your students are bringing to class, in terms of knowledge, ability, and motivational levels.
In this section, you will be examined on your knowledge levels of different learning styles, effective teaching methods, adult learner needs, and techniques for delivering instructor-led training. You will also be expected to know good and bad times for using different teaching methods and your ability to quickly change your direction if your students are not responding to the methods and activities you have brought to that class.
This domain also assesses you for abilities with using instructional media. This can include handouts, flipcharts, slide presentations, video, and whiteboards, to name a few. You will also need to know advantages and disadvantages of each media type.
Domain three examines the critical abilities of the instructor to remain positive, professional, and welcoming in all situations. You will be expected to understand topics such as personal grooming and appearance, manners, non-verbal communication, and the ability to be open and honest with student questions and concerns. Nobody likes a teacher who is belittling and critical of students, and this is simply unacceptable in any learning environment.
In domain four, the first part you will be tested on is your ability to maintain a learner-centered environment. This is critical for any teacher because the class is for the learners, not you. It is even appropriate to view yourself as a learning facilitator in this role. As a teacher/facilitator, you must be able to connect, invite, question, personalize, and discuss content in your classes. You also must be able to develop and maintain group-learning dynamics. Creating activities and lessons that involve groups allows for the learners to share personal information and experience. This truly enriches a class for everyone, including you as the instructor. Also, you must be able to time and pace the class to ensure you are meeting the learning needs of all students while still being able to cover all learning objectives.
The second part of domain four examines your ability to question. Effective questioning skills are your best friend as a teacher because it is through your questions that you can gauge student abilities to comprehend and apply the knowledge you are putting forth. If students are not able to answer questions or do activities well, that's your indicator to stop and re-teach. CompTIA expects you to be adept at active listening skills and the ability to use different questioning techniques. The types of questions you ask determine the response you get back. Some of the types of questioning techniques you are expected to know are open, closed, probing, hypothetical, higher order, and clarifying questions. Through these different types of questions, you can gauge general understanding, deeper comprehension, or application abilities of your students.
This domain measures your ability to assess your students' learning as well as reflectively look at your performance during the training event. First, all good instructors must be actively and constantly assessing the progression and understanding of your students. Through questioning techniques, discussed in domain four, and practical or written exercises, quizzes, exams, and so forth you will need to measure how well your students are learning. In many IT classes, your students are studying and preparing for a certification exam too, so it is even more imperative to make sure that they are learning.
Also, CompTIA expects you to know effective surveying techniques for feedback concerning your performance. In many classes, a survey form is used. It is critical that you pay attention to what your students are saying to you. This is the way you grow. Don't take feedback personally, either. CompTIA wants to see how well you take both positive comments and constructive criticism. It is important for all teachers to be reflective on their performance after each class. Finding areas for improvement are the only ways you will grow as an instructional professional.
To sum up, the content we just covered is only part of what CompTIA expects you to know. It is always advised that you stay current with what CompTIA, or any test vendor, expects on the exams you are interested in. Objectives can and do change without a lot of notice, so stay current. For the CTT+ exam, be sure to visit www.comptia.com to find out everything you need to know for successful completion of the CTT+ certification.