Becoming a Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) for scrum.org is tough – in fact, it’s probably one of the hardest things to do as an Agile professional. For anyone considering taking a class though, this tough process is a blessing. It’s a stamp of quality that demonstrates your trainer’s adherence to the values and excellence that scrum.org as an organisation strives for.

This blog aims to share information on the process for two audiences; firstly those interested in going on this ‘joyful journey’ themselves, or secondly, those wanting to find out what being a PST means.

The Process

It’s worth noting that there are some minimum requirements to meet before applying to join the candidate programme – 95% in the respective PSM I/PSPO I assessments (depending on the track applied for) and four years of experience of being a Scrum Master/Product Owner. The experience requirement is vital to help share knowledge and stories with students to help bring theory to life.

The process from application through to being licensed typically takes six months to two years (although as with everything, there are outliers).

The Application

There is no fee to complete the application, but be prepared to spend some time completing it. Anyone can fill it out assuming they meet the pre-requisite requirements. It will ask you to elaborate on your reasons for application, your experiences in leveraging Scrum and offers you the opportunity to list your Twitter/Youtube/LinkedIn materials if you want to share your blogging/teaching engagement.

You will also be asked to share your experience with training others in a classroom/virtual setting.

The Interview

You will have a conversation with the Director of the PST programme (currently, Daphne Harris) which will focus on your application. Expect to dive into more detail about the information you shared and have an open and honest discussion about your abilities. Everyone who goes through the PST process will tell you that Daphne is a lovely human being, and they are all right. Try to be yourself.

The Assessment

For some, this step is often met before application (but there is no requirement to). You must sit and pass the PSM II assessment (85%+, for the PSM track) or the PSM I assessment (95%, for the PSPO track).

The Train-the-Trainer

The TTT is an opportunity to join a live, public class to observe how the trainers deliver the courseware. It is typically a three-day experience which is split into two – two days of the public class (where you will behave like a typical, collaborative student) and a final day (just for the trainers and candidates). The TTT does have an associated cost (the price as if you were just attending that public class).

Before being booked onto a TTT, you must receive approval from scrum.org to proceed and they will share the available TTT dates. Typically, this can take a while as there is a pipeline of other candidates awaiting these opportunities too.

During the first two days, be calm and a ‘typical student’. There is no expectation on you to train. In fact, letting the public participants make mistakes is good! Don’t feel the need to correct everything. The best thing to do is observe how they learn, reflect on the activities the trainers use to teach concepts and consider how you might do it differently. The general advice is to allow the participants to ‘breathe’…don’t steal the air.

The third day is solely for the trainers and candidates. The specific activities are purposely not shared in advance, but you can expect to teach Scrum concepts in short timeboxes, behave as a trainer (with the rest of the candidates as your students) and receive feedback. If you take away one thing from this, it’s that day three is about feedback.

Achievement of this stage will mean you can join the candidate Slack channel which is very active.

The Assessment (again)

This is the hardest part – passing the distinguished level III assessment. There is lots of information around with tips and tricks to pass these, so we won’t cover that here. You will receive a 40% discount code for the assessments. Product Owner candidates must pass the PSM III (85%+) and the PSPO III (90%+) whereas the Scrum Master candidates must only pass the PSM III (90%+). You are limited to two attempts within six months.

The Interview (again)

The penultimate step is to have a final interview with the Director of the PST programme. Its purpose is to dive deeper into your progress and journey, to offer feedback and (perhaps) review your PSM III/PSPO III answers.

The Peer Review

The final ‘assessed’ stage is a peer review with five other PSTs. Preparation is key to this stage, and the Slack channel organises (or you can organise your own) preparation sessions fairly frequently. It’s important to note that whilst this step is rigorous, tough and scary, all of the PSTs involved want you to succeed.

The peer review centres around two parts; a teaching activity (with the assessors playing the role of students in your class) and tough questions. Tough questions are asked from the perspective of students, for example ‘I’m a Project Manager. I notice that there isn’t a role in Scrum for me so where do I fit?’. You answer them as a trainer and can address them as you see appropriate.

If you aren’t successful, another peer review will likely be scheduled for you over the next few months to allow you time to reflect and act on the feedback shared.

The Final Step

The final stage is just logistics because you’ve been accepted into the community already!

  • Paying for, and signing your license (currently $3500)
  • Onboarding with scrum.org
  • (Optional) creating your website/training company
  • Engaging with the community of incredible PSTs
  • Creating a bio and updating your scrum.org headshot

The Benefits

Alongside the obvious benefit of being licensed to teach accredited scrum.org classes and be listed on their website, there are numerous other benefits.

For example:

  • Becoming accredited to teach other classes is possible
  • Access to Face-2-Face meetings where PSTs from around the world engage in discussion about Scrum
  • The ability to promote your events, blogs and teaching materials

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Joining the PST community is a wonderful experience. If you are interested in doing so, we’d encourage you to reach out to scrum.org to arrange an open conversation about it.

If you’d like something less formal, please contact our PST, Ryan, via LinkedIn or through contacting us via our website: www.optilearn.co.uk and he’d be happy to share his experiences.

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