UMBC Mic'd Up

From Accidental Trainer to Master Educator: A Journey

October 27, 2023 UMBC Mic'd Up with Dennise Season 3
From Accidental Trainer to Master Educator: A Journey
UMBC Mic'd Up
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UMBC Mic'd Up
From Accidental Trainer to Master Educator: A Journey
Oct 27, 2023 Season 3
UMBC Mic'd Up with Dennise

🎙️ Join us for an insightful episode of UMBC's Mic'd Up Podcast featuring Tina Butcher, a recent graduate of the Learning and Performance Technology graduate program at UMBC. In this conversation, Tina shares her transformative journey from being an accidental trainer to becoming a master educator.

🌟 Discover how Tina's decades of experience in training led her to seek a more structured and rigorous approach. Learn about UMBC's Learning and Performance Technology program's pivotal role in honing her skills and empowering her to excel in adult education.

📚 Tina's story highlights the power of continuous learning and how it can shape and elevate a career. If you're passionate about education and want to explore new horizons, this episode is a must-watch!

🔗 For more information about UMBC's Learning and Performance Technology program, visit the Program Website:

👍 Don't forget to like, share, and subscribe for more inspiring conversations on UMBC's Mic'd Up Podcast! Hit the notification bell so you never miss an episode.

Show Notes Transcript

🎙️ Join us for an insightful episode of UMBC's Mic'd Up Podcast featuring Tina Butcher, a recent graduate of the Learning and Performance Technology graduate program at UMBC. In this conversation, Tina shares her transformative journey from being an accidental trainer to becoming a master educator.

🌟 Discover how Tina's decades of experience in training led her to seek a more structured and rigorous approach. Learn about UMBC's Learning and Performance Technology program's pivotal role in honing her skills and empowering her to excel in adult education.

📚 Tina's story highlights the power of continuous learning and how it can shape and elevate a career. If you're passionate about education and want to explore new horizons, this episode is a must-watch!

🔗 For more information about UMBC's Learning and Performance Technology program, visit the Program Website:

👍 Don't forget to like, share, and subscribe for more inspiring conversations on UMBC's Mic'd Up Podcast! Hit the notification bell so you never miss an episode.

Dennise Cardona  0:00  

Welcome to this episode of UMBC's Mic'd Up podcast. My name is Dennise Cardona from the Office of Professional Programs at UMBC. Today, I have guest Tina Butcher. And she is a recent graduate of the Learning and Performance Technology graduate program here at UMBC. One that I just graduated from as well. So I'm super excited to have this chat with Tina. And I hope you enjoy this episode. Tina, welcome to the UMBC's Mic'd Up podcast. It's great to have you here.

Tina Butcher  0:28  

Thank you. It's great to be here.

Dennise Cardona  0:31  

So you are a fellow graduate of the Learning and Performance Technology program at UMBC. Yay. Yes. Last. When I graduated in May of 23, you just graduated in August of 2010. It doesn't it feel so awesome to be like just have that accomplished, right?

Tina Butcher  0:52  

Yes. Yes. Yeah, that's a great milestone.

Dennise Cardona  0:56  

It really is absolutely. What started what prompted you to enroll in the program to begin with?

Tina Butcher  1:03  

Okay, I've been doing training for the 35 plus years of my career, but only a small portion of time, we can only devote a small portion of time to training. And honestly, I love the term that one of my fellow classmates in UNBC program mentioned that I was what I would call an accidental trainer. And what I mean by that is like me and most of my colleagues in the technical program, we are subject matter experts. And as is often the case in an organization, people turn to the subject matter experts and say all about this, why don't you train these people. And so most of me and most of my colleagues are in the capacity of subject matter experts turned into trainers. And what I found is that over the years, I've taken a number of commercially available, train the trainer programs, and some are excellent, some are well developed. And I won't mention names, but some are really great programs. And others are more tips and tricks superficial. And you get out of it, what you get out of it. And I'd always been looking for something more one on one, it's something more rigorous, something that was more than just that superficial. And the pandemic actually kind of prompted me to start looking because I thought our travels curtailed and sitting at the computer all the time, and maybe there's some coursework that I can do. And years ago, I had looked into some programs. But honestly, what I found was that nothing really worked for me. And I found the UMBC program. And I know that later we'll talk about how did I come to you and B C's program. But by and large, most of the other programs that I found, were really oriented towards K through 12. Education. And while that's certainly much needed in today's society, and always will be most of the venue that I have are adults, we do some outreach for younger people, but adult educators or adult education is rather different. And I had a hard time finding something tailored to adult education. And so I came to the UMBC program, as a hey, I have some kids who would say time, I was very busy at work. But I had some time to think about it. And I found the UMBC program, it was one line. And it really seemed tailored to what I needed. And I thought why not, why not just start this and I found it, I loved it. And I didn't look back by I started with a graduate certificate. And right away from the first class, I knew that this would help me in my career.

Dennise Cardona  3:50  

It's we are on very similar paths in that not the subject matter expert part because that was not what got me into this program. But it was more so during the pandemic, I said, Oh, I have some time on my hands. Now. I'm not going out of the house and not commuting to work. I've got extra time. What can I do to fill this and keep my brain occupied. And I had always had this desire to learn how to make training better, because I've taken so many training courses and sat there and rolled my eyes most of the time like this is such a waste of time there. It's disorganized, not learning what I want to learn, I have no idea what's expected. So there were a lot of pitfalls to the trainings that I have taken over the years and I wanted to be able to learn how to put courses together. I had that desire for a long time and I thought this would be a good time to just tiptoe into taking a graduate class and I've been at UMBC for 16 years working alongside Dr. Greg Williams, the program director and some of the faculty and I thought this I've been moderating these info sessions for years. And we had one right at the beginning of the pandemic that was a virtual one And I was really tuned into it this time around and how sick this sounds like what I'm looking for. So I did exactly like you did I started with, I'm going to just take maybe a class or a certificate program and see what it's like. Yes. And of course, after that first class, it was a 602. It's a beginner, one of the introduction to instructional systems design and development. I was like, this is exactly what I got it just, my heart was open. And I was like, Yeah, this is it.

Tina Butcher  5:30  

Yeah, it clicked. Definitely.

Dennise Cardona  5:32  

Yeah, absolutely. And we can talk because we were in classes together, the pure involvement is amazing, isn't it? Yes, of how we all come from such different backgrounds. And we all have differently things to be able to add rich layers to these group discussions that you have within the classes. So I learned so much from

Tina Butcher  5:50  

my peers. Yes, absolutely.

Dennise Cardona  5:54  

Speaking of what would you say were some of the biggest skills or knowledge points that you gained while you were studying in the program, the Learning and Performance Technology program at UMBC? And how have they influenced your professional journey at this point,

Tina Butcher  6:13  

we talked about being subject a subject matter expert and being thrown into training. And I'll be quite frank that as I started learning, I was horrified at some of the things that I was doing in training, because a lot of the training I had developed and delivered, even though I would get really good reviews, it was what I thought needed to be done, how I felt, Oh, this would be great. And this is what is needed. And while I'm sure it was on the mark, technically, there were many things that I was doing that weren't quite up to snuff. And that's what I was looking for someone to help me basically improve the way we deliver it so that it would be a better learning experience for the student. And so as I started relearning some of the things that I was doing, and others and you know, who followed suit with me, I was able to share that with my colleagues, which was a great benefit. But I started applying it. And with with the off the shelf, it was catches catch, can I find a class? Oh, that looks interesting. I'll take that. But with the UMBC program, I had a roadmap. And it actually guided me through the entire instructional design process. And I found that each course would focus on a different element of the design process and the delivery process. And so I was able to really learn the theory and the rigor behind that. And I had a roadmap to do it through the course curriculum. And I tended to favor the ADDIE model of instructional design, the analysis, design, development, implementation evaluation, and I found that the course curriculum mirrored that I could practice each of those elements. And so it was almost like building blocks as I would apply these concepts in my work, I could put them to use. And that was a really key point for me, too, was that with this program, I found that except for one or two classes, because of the nature of the topic, I was able to pick a project that I wanted to do. And so I would pick projects that I could immediately put to use. And it was almost like having sort of a built in mentor, because as I would submit pieces of the project, I would get feedback and I could improve them. And so I was having someone helped me, and my classmates helped me through the process and try new things. And so that practice part was huge for me to be able to put it into use. And to know that it was used, it was useful wasn't just something that sat in the computer after a class and never got touched again. And so that practice part was really important. I would say a couple of the concepts that really stood out for me the aha moments, if you will, the things that I think really helped me most professionally, was what I mentioned earlier, the focus on adult education. And I want to be clear that while this curriculum includes that element, it's by no means isolated. For adults, we had the K through 12 students as well. And I found that personally very enlightening to hear that end of it because those are the students that are coming those those K through 12 students are coming into our workplace as well. But the having that adult education component was really important to me, learning that adults respond well to being given responsibility or control of their own training, as opposed to me thinking, Oh, as a trainer, the cliche sage on the stage is the old hat type of thing. But finding that students do respond to having that self directed work, and then being able to design that into our curriculum, and then providing them support to Learn. And with that. One of the other key components that really helped me was the concept of informal learning. That was, for me, probably by far the biggest lightbulb, for my own personal experience is that we learn 90% of what we learn outside of a classroom. And so if our agency is going to be successful training people, we have to tap into that and find ways to be present, if you will, while they're learning informally. So that was a big aha moment for me. And then the training needs analysis was another big one, whether training is the solution at all, but then also using that analysis to help focus on the design, what are the parts that we really need to look at in training design, so that the learners are getting the things that we want? Because oftentimes, I found myself adding things in, only to find out if you really question the students later, that was interesting, but what I really needed to know was x. So really thoroughly doing that needs analysis and finding out how to improve and our training design,

Dennise Cardona  11:08  

you had so many good nuggets, right there, taking little notes, because unlike me, I can't wait, I gotta say that there's so many things, of course, because we've been through the program together, we have this passion for this fields, right? Anything that it stands for. And yeah, I love what you said about the applied learning the practicing, being able to that was, to me the most valuable part is being able to take these concepts that we're learning and every class built on it on the other it seemed take these concepts, and go out there in the real world and do real world projects, and apply them that way. And so anybody who's listening in who maybe is thinking about this program, or maybe you're in it right now, this could stand for any program you're in, if you are going to be doing a project, make sure it's something that you really are passionate about, when you want to do something good for this, it's, if you can take a project that you're excited about, and then apply the things you're learning in the classroom to that, wow, it's gonna be powerful. And that was my experiences. Every single one of these classes, I was able to take a client. And if you can't find one, there are people in your class who will help you that helped a few people find clients and we just all help each other. So never worry that Oh, I don't have anybody I can help. There's always somebody that can step in and help you figure that out. There are many organizations that need help. So I don't think that's ever really going to be a problem. That was one of my big apprehensions going in, it's Ooh, what if I don't have a client, what if I don't know people I can work with to do these projects, never a problem. So finding those people and being part of the solution, learning from them, they turn into mentors. And then now you have this enrich portfolio, when you're done with this program, you can walk away with it and have all of these amazing projects that you learned and grew from. And it also helps you to see what you do and don't maybe like in the field, because instructional design is not just about facilitating learning. It's not just about designing, learning, or developing learning, it's about analysis. And there are so many different facets to it. And that's what I feel like, I really love to the variety of classes, because it taught me what else is involved in this because when I went in, I was just thinking, Oh, it's we're going to I'm going to develop courses, and I'm going to teach them. And that's that is where my area of passion is. But there's a whole much more to this field than just that. Yeah, so much more. And, you know, I don't know about you. But when we were looking when we had this group discussions within each class, we were able to see what our peers were working on. And there's so much diversity in terms of the kinds of projects people are working on. That is another way to learn. And that's the informal learning in a way, as well, as you're learning from if you take the time to really analyze what people are working on. You can learn from what they're doing informally. And it's just such a magical thing to be able to embrace that learning process and experience. Yeah, absolutely.

Tina Butcher  14:07  

I would say to that, it's like any training that you will get out of it, what you put into it. And yes, you can go in and you complete a project and you can get your grade. Or you can look at it and say how can I use this? How can I apply it and as you know, whether you're already employed some of the students like me, or whether you're still a full time student and haven't entered the workforce, yet. There's benefit to taking the this these products if you're a full time student, you build your portfolio, you practice it, you get some experience, you can point to it. If you're put in that position. When you enter the workforce. You can feel Ah, I've done that before. I know that and I agree with you about the multi facets that because of the way I've always trained we were very we were very small organization. We didn't have much resource for training and so we did have Everything we did to design, we did the research, we did the delivery, and then to find out that in the training world, most of those are filled by different people, you can be attracted to any one of those elements and make a career out of it really and say I'm expert on MSME. I'm an expert in analysis, I'm an expert in facilitation. And that's it's such a cool feel that there's so much to offer.

Dennise Cardona  15:25  

Absolutely, and taught me like I was able to figure out what I really wanted to focus on, like I just said facilitation. And I like developing and designing the courses. When you get out into the real world, things aren't always as you as they are in the classroom. And that packed in that practice ground. And so I just had a similar, I'm actually going through a similar experience right now with that, where I'm not developing a course, but I'm going to be facilitating it. And that takes me way out of my comfort zone says yes, I'm still waiting on some documentation to be able to my instructor guide, and I have no idea what's in front of me. And it's only two weeks away from now. And so I'm like, Oh, this is really uncomfortable. But I think that we learned from those and we grow the most from those uncomfortable situations. And getting out of those areas where we feel knowledgeable, we feel, you know, we've built up that skill set. Once you do that, sometimes it's fun to branch off and try a different aspect of it. And that's what's great about ISD world is there's so many aspects. Yeah, absolutely. What is your favorite aspect?

Tina Butcher  16:29  

I think knowing how to do it, right. As I said, it's been instinctive type of process for me up to this point. And I was always left with wondering, What can I do better? Like you said, you always want to improve, you always want to do better for your students, but always worried about what was I missing? So I really liked knowing how to do it, right. But then there were certain elements that I was really drawn to one that one that you mentioned, and I really took it for granted is as an SME facilitating, I knew what I wanted to say, I could make a few notes. I had some slides, I had an exercise, and I knew what needed to be done. But in turning that over to a colleague to teach or after I leave. How do we make that? How do we make that continuity and for our agency uniformity is a big thing, making sure that every class is presented essentially the same way so that everyone gets the learning, same learning experience and the process of documenting a lesson plan, Instructor Notes, facilitator notes, laying out all the logistics, it was great to see that model, it was really quite useful for me.

Dennise Cardona  17:39  

Yeah, process. That was a big takeaway for me is, I always just assumed before I studied this field, that facilitating teaching, it was more of a maybe like an art and creative aspects that you needed to have that art creative type of personality. And, and I learned that no, yes, it's important. But you know what, that's not the most important part, the most important part is the process behind it is getting to that the process meaning like within any kind of a learning environment, how do you get your learners to mastery is the most critical part. And focusing on that, whether it be within a team within yourself, that is a process in and of itself, and it helps you to keep your eye on the goalpost. Where are we headed with us. And we always go in towards that, or we whatever we're doing that we continually moving forward toward that mastery, and learning that was pivotal for me.

Tina Butcher  18:39  

Yes. And if you have a strong design, and you follow that process, if you're not the one doing all of the pieces, you can rely on every person that's contributing, if your design is strong, they're going to deliver the product the way it needs to be delivered, because you you design that in. And what what we also found is that, because our organization was small in the sense of the amount of training we could provide, we were like, I was doing everything, my colleague was doing everything for a class. And we have people who weren't comfortable facilitating. And so we they either were not so good at delivering and the students just lived with it. And they were uncomfortable. But then we found that you could look at the pieces of this. And by having that process they could contribute without and be in their comfort zone. And we could still end up with a great product at the end that delivered what we wanted to deliver for the learner.

Dennise Cardona  19:41  

Yeah, absolutely. That's powerful. Now, when you were engaging in collaboration, collaborative type of projects, because we did some group assignments, how did that make you feel? How did that enhance or maybe even take away from your learning? Do you have any opinions on that what your experience was?

Tina Butcher  19:58  

Yeah, I'll do I'll tell you a little prejudice of mine is that I went into this program. After I got my baccalaureate, I did take a lot of college classes here and there and I had another Master's. And I would say, I personally dislike group projects, I just I find that, like you said, sometimes they're not really reflecting the real world dynamics. And particularly if you're already in the workforce, trying to herd cats, if you will, and get everybody to contribute, I've always found it a real challenge. But I had a really good experience with the UMBC program, I would say the first thing is that it didn't feel pushed to always do a group project, they were all most of the time, there were options. And the the one instance, where I did have to do a group project, I had a fabulous collaborator, she's a UMBC employee, as a matter of fact, and it was probably the best group project have ever experienced, that I've ever had in taking a college class, I loved it. And then I would say what you mentioned earlier, the interactions with other students was really great for me, I did miss the classroom dynamic a little bit, although it wasn't willing to give up the flexibility of the online. But I missed that that classroom dynamic. But I learned so much from hearing either for the synchronous classes or reading for the asynchronous classes, the others posts, what they were dealing with. Because as from going through the program, a lot of the people in these programs are already professionals in the Learning and Performance profession. And I felt a little overwhelmed by oh my gosh, they know all these things already. But I learned from them. And they were always willing to share, hey, I did it this way. Or I noticed you came up with this. And I tried this and found it useful. Those were super helpful. And then as I mentioned earlier, those who came from the K through 12 environment had a different perspective. And I learned so much from that. It was that dynamic, I think was really great for me, I didn't like the posting having to post comments all the time, but reading them fabulous. I enjoyed learning from that. And then on the synchronous classes, just having that interaction was really nice.

Dennise Cardona  22:12  

Absolutely. Yes. So what are you doing now? Like, so you graduated in August? Yes. And tell me about what your what you want? What's the expectation that from the program? What do you want to do with it out in the real world?

Tina Butcher  22:26  

Okay. I just retired, actually, I retired in August as well. And so it seems like an odd lot of people have said, Why did you get a Master's when you were ready to retire. And as I mentioned earlier, first of all, it was opportune. And I wasn't sure at that point when I would retire. And I'd always wanted to do this, I knew I would walk away after I took that first class, I knew I'd walk away with giving something back to my organization, my organization paid for my classes, felt like I could turn around provide them a product that they were paying for. And that I could leave a model for those who were left behind. But as it turns out, I'm going to go back to work for my organization, in a I'll call it a part time capacity. And I'm going to be able to focus just on training, design and development, I'll be helping to develop their training strategy, I'll be putting immediately and to use a lot of what I've already learned. In fact, I'll share in a little bit, my capstone project was to convert one of our courses into a hybrid course. So be experimenting with that. But it's really exciting to be able to take what I learned in a classroom and find that, oh, this is useful in the real world. And it's been a fabulous experience for me in that regard.

Dennise Cardona  23:41  

Oh, that's great to hear. And you bring up such a great point about retirement and things like that, because I'm like, 10 years from retirement, possibly, right. And so I love my job at UMBC. I love what I do here, I don't have any desire to go and get another full time job in the instructional design field. My goal in educating myself in this is, I love to do side work, and I love to contract type of work. And so that's what I've fallen into, I work full time. And then on the side, I get to create these courses facilitate these courses, in different capacities to different audiences. And I love that I just feel like I am I learned how to do it correctly. And my students are gaining mastery as a result of that. And when I look to the future, a lot of people say I don't think I'll ever really retire. And I feel the same way I look at my parents. My father is 80 years old and he is still working as a plumber on the side. And I think the reason he's still alive and he looks great, he's full of vigor and life is because he continues to use his brain and his body. And so being he was he he was a role model for that where I'm like, I don't think I'll ever want to fully just do nothing. I could never just sit around To do nothing, and this is a great field, for those who are listening, who maybe have never heard of this field or never considered this, but this is a great field for side work as, as well as post retirement from full time work. You can make such a difference in the world teaching, dating, creating learning experiences for people who need to learn things, and they need to learn them correctly. So it's done in a safe environment, it's done in an environment that's going to bring them to the level they need to be at. And to me, that was the most exciting part of studying this as there's so much opportunity. If you look for it, yes, if you look for it. Now, oh,

Tina Butcher  25:41  

that was a lot of the projects that some of my co students or colleagues, I guess you would call it in the classroom, because they came from so many different fields, that there were people doing projects on things at church, or things in a volunteer organization or in a Scout program. And it really opened my eyes to how much we educate how much we put into education as a society. And we could do so much better. And even if you're volunteering and providing the skills that you learned, it can really help an organization. And there as you said, there are plenty of opportunities. I know that even in my field, our agency doesn't have the resources to respond to a lot of the training requests we get. But this positions need to be able to go out and do that. And I would say no matter what stage you are in your career, first of all, I would say I wish that I had done this. I wish I had known about this a lot sooner. I wish I could have done it sooner. But don't ever think that oh, I'm you can see I retired right when I got my degree. So don't ever think that it's too late to do it. And I don't regret. I don't regret it at all. It's been a fabulous experience for me.

Dennise Cardona  26:59  

Wow, Tina, this has been a really great conversation. I've enjoyed it. I love talking about the learning world. And I love being in classes with you. Thank you so much for making my learning experience better in the classes we took together and also sharing your insights with everybody tuning into this via either video or on the podcast. We really appreciate it.

Tina Butcher  27:20  

Thank you. Thank you. It's been a pleasure. I appreciate the opportunity to share and to your your journey as well.

Dennise Cardona  27:28  

Thanks so much for listening to this episode. I hope you enjoyed it. If you'd like to learn more about our offerings, do a search for UMBC Learning and Performance Technology graduate program or simply click the link in the description.