Staff Ride Teams

Staff ride programs are often team taught. This is the preferred approach because of the field phase of instruction. The classroom instruction and synthesis period can be covered by one or two instructors. The field phase; however, is quite a bit different and is best suited to a group approach.

2011 Tippecanoe County Historical Association staff ride team

2011 Tippecanoe County Historical Association staff ride team

During the classroom phase traditional instructional tools are used to teach required background information in preparation for the field phase. While team teaching can be used during the classroom phase, it is not necessary. The classroom phase is akin to traditional military history instruction in method.

During the field phase the staff ride team has several roles. The team moves participants from location to location. Group movement is best (by foot or bus if it is a long move) so that the staff ride team can point out important locations to the students during movement. Some  locations are merely points of interest because of an aspect of terrain or a minor battlefield activity–these can just be pointed out. Other locations are important because of decisions that were made or tactical activities that occurred. Groups should stop at these locations (called “stands”) and discuss why they are important.

The role of the staff ride team at each stand is to place the location in context and act as moderators, drawing out from the students important learning points about tactics and leadership. There can be tens of stands in a staff ride, which is why the team approach is so important during this phase. The staff ride team member moderating a discussion at a stand has to be knowledgeable enough about battlefield activities at that specific location, point and the leaders who exercised influence over the actions there, that they can meet the learning objectives by drawing out critical information from students.

A synthesis period is the last part of the staff ride. It is can be less formal. It can even be conducted on the bus ride back home (if the group traveled to the battlefield together). The main purpose of the synthesis phase is to solidify in the student’s minds lessons about military operations and leadership. One or two staff ride team members are adequate for this event.