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Commentary – Journey as a tech school instructor

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Heather Redman
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs
"Remember IWAS; ISO, white balance, aperture, shutter," I yelled at the mass of basic still photography students as they try taking photos while getting pegged with paintballs. We're in functional area four, the field training exercise, and the students are photographing their performance exam. "Wait for the action, focus on the eyes, and think before you shoot." For the next twenty-four hours I'm tired, stressed, and above all I'm just hoping they all pass to the next functional area.

That's what it's like being a technical school instructor. You're almost always confronted with lesson plans, with students who don't do their homework, or who are dealing with family issues. You're given a handful of students from all walks of life. Each and every one of them has a different background, a different knowledge level, and a different learning style.

It's your job to see past everything and through mentorship, turn them into valuable members of the U.S. Air Force. It's tough and demanding.

The stress of knowing the future of your career field lies in the hands of the Airman you're training is a heavy burden to bear, but it is easily overshadowed by the pride you feel when they walk across the stage on graduation day.

Being a technical school instructor is a highly rewarding experience. It allows you to shape, lead, train, and mentor the future of the Air Force. It is such an important part of the future of the Air Force that the training instructor is one of a handful of special duties that is considered developmental.

Additional developmental special duties include Career Assistance Advisors, Military Training Instructors, Military Training Leaders, U.S. Air Force Academy Military Training Noncommissioned Officers, Airman and Family Readiness Center Noncommissioned Officers, First Sergeants, USAF Honor Guard NCOs, Enlisted Accessions Recruiters and Professional Military Education Instructors.

Earlier this year Air Force officials announced developmental special duties will be nominative rather than volunteer-based process. Ensuring only the most qualified Airmen are placed in key roles which have an impact across the service.

There is no mistake that teaching at a technical training school has an impact on Airman throughout their careers. I can still hear the criticism and the praise from my instructors every time I pick up a camera. The impact that they had on my life is what convinced me to one day pursue a position as a technical school instructor. I saw them as leaders that I wanted to emulate in my career and to be an inspiration to others.

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