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What it takes to be a technical training instructor

CE Online Fall 2016

By Tech. Sgt. Randy Golleher 
782nd Training Group
Emergency Management Instructor

It is an honor and privilege to serve the U.S. Air Force as a civil engineer emergency management technical training instructor.

Instructor positions are developmental special duty positions assigned by major commands to qualified individuals. The purpose of these positions is to enhance the professional growth of noncommissioned officers and ensure the right people are present in environments where Airmen need positive influences and experiences. Therefore, it is an honor to be in a position that allows me to grow as an NCO and have a positive influence on the future of my career field, Airmen and ultimately the Air Force. Being an instructor is a challenging and demanding position that requires the highest focus on Air Force core values.

An instructor is charged to train and educate Airmen with career field knowledge and Air Force policies and procedures. To be successful in this environment, instructors must lead by example. Excellence in dress and appearance, customs and courtesies, knowledge of career field curriculum, great fitness and high energy are just a few demands set forth on Airmen at technical school. Instructors are required to except nothing less than “excellence in all we do” from Airmen. 

The Air Force did not create the values of honesty, being part of something greater than one’s self or doing the best at all times. However, it is the job of an instructor to assist Airmen with understanding how to embrace those values as members of our service.  This is why it is extremely important for instructors to set the example at all times. There is never a day off from being an instructor. Airmen out of basic military training have been taught to follow, and a technical training instructor can either have a positive influence or a negative influence by the example set. 

An effective instructor must motivate, mentor and discipline when required. Every day a classroom of Airmen needs something different. One Airman may feel like giving up and need inspiration, another may need discipline for not meeting standards or another Airman may need extra tutoring. The bottom line is an instructor needs to be well-rounded and flexible to deal with the variety of potential issues that will arise throughout his or her time in the school. The Air Force core value of “service before self” is tested because it is the Airmen’s education in the Air Force. Their well-being comes first, every day, for an Air Force instructor. 

“Doing the right thing” is the simplest definition for integrity. An instructor is faced with questions about “doing the right thing” all day, every day. For example, there are unprofessional relationship questions such as, “Should I hang out with the students?” There are questions about test compromise like, “Should I just teach the test so everyone passes and I do not have to deal with paperwork?” There can be integrity questions about treating students fairly. Sexual harassment, racism, sexism, biased opinions and stereotyping cannot be present in an Air Force technical school. It takes an instructor with high integrity to ensure the technical training classroom is an environment that fosters diversity, learning and growth for all Airmen.

Being an instructor is a very challenging job. The Air Force core values are tested every day. Despite the challenges, it is a very rewarding job with the reward coming on graduation day. As an instructor I get to shake the hand of each student and congratulate them on their hard work. If each instructor leads by example, puts Airmen first and continuously does the right thing, then it is rewarding knowing that the future of the world’s greatest Air Force is in good hands.