We are lucky to have a broad range of experience in our operational staff here at Beechwood Trees.
We have some very seasoned professionals (the old guys) who have been doing the work for many years and are well known and respected in the industry, our experienced arborists (the guys) who have been doing the job for a number of years, and we also have some new blood in the company with our apprentices and new starters (the new guys).
This however poses a challenge…
We learn our trade primarily ‘on the tools’ with our colleagues, mentors, by gaining experience and we take our qualifications with the approved bodies and refresh those qualifications when necessary.
However ‘general knowledge’ about trees such as their biology, growth characteristics, life spans, the pathogens that attack them, where they thrive, why they sometimes don’t etc is something that unless we are taking tree related qualifications such as a Diploma in Arboriculture, we aren’t normally taught.
We, of course, carry out group based learning activities like anyone else does. First Aid courses for example are still done in the classroom. We also do presentations when we need to communicate something to all staff together.
But what about those that do not wish to have further education but still need to learn all about trees for their roles?
With the current lockdown, the majority of you will have been involved in some form of online pub quiz, or will at least know someone who has! So in order to address this we have devised a number of quick, easy online quizzes for our staff for them to take, outside the classroom at their leisure, such as the one shown on the identification of fungi.
This assessment is not a pass or fail test.
It is simply to assess the current knowledge on the staff on specific subject matter in order to understand if there are any learning requirements they will benefit from in their role.
It is a multiple choice and there are only 10 questions in this instance.
We believe that quick quizzes are both quick and fun for the staff as they can either be done in the van between jobs on their phones (passengers only!) or at home in the evening if they’d prefer.
The fact that they can do these assessments in this way and the fact they are short, only taking a few minutes, relieves any pressure they might feel because, as we know, some people do not perform to their best under test conditions.
The important thing is that they quickly enable us to see if there are any areas that we think our staff will benefit from having additional training and because they do not take long to set up (around half an hour) we can tailor them to whatever may be topical at the time such as Ash Dieback or even non tree topics such as COVID.
From the results we can easily raise awareness to all staff through tool box talks and presentations where necessary but we can now hone in on individuals and assist in developing their own knowledge on a one to one basis, tailoring it accordingly.
The aim is simple, to raise ‘tree related general knowledge’ across all our staff especially those that choose not to take additional qualifications but still want to have a broad general understanding of trees.
What if they cheat you may ask?
As they are doing these quizzes online away from the office there are obviously no Invigilators present. There is no one pacing around checking they haven’t written the answers on their sleeves like all those years ago when I sat my O levels…
It’s not the end of the world…
In order for them to cheat, they would have to find the answer, therefore learning in the process.
A win, win…