Dragon Corner: A day in the life of a military instructor

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jeffrey McLemore
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What is it like to be a military instructor at the best base in the Air Force? Well it isn't easy work and it's not always appreciated by those being taught.

As many of you are aware, a military instructor position in the training environment is now considered a career broadening pursuit and is looked upon as a special duty assignment. Finally somebody gets the level of responsibility placed on the shoulders of the instructor staff. But what do they do? How do they help complete the mission? Let me illustrate a sample day of a military instructor in one of the five different training squadrons that teach our Airmen.

- Wake up for breakfast and get ready for work at 4 a.m.

- Leave home at 5 a.m. to arrive at work no later than 5:30 a.m.

- Set up classroom and start up simulators/computer support for daily instructions at 5:30 a.m.

- Welcome students to class at 5:50 a.m.

- Teach class 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. with 50 minutes for lunch and 35 minutes worth of breaks throughout the day

- Input classroom progress into mandatory Community College of the Air Force tracking database 3-4 p.m.

Twelve-hour days whether it's a 5-day week or a compressed work schedule week; you can see the day of an instructor is full from start to finish. But it doesn't stop there. What's missing? What isn't being captured? The instructors pulling NCO duty in the dorms so that they can maintain good order and discipline on the weekend? The required ancillary training? Personal time for physical training? Study time for professional military education? You're right, all that is done on their own time or after class.

The fast pace and repetitive nature of the instructor life is why it takes such a special caliber of person to do that job. To be able to overlook the fact that you trained the same type of material a week ago and had to answer the same type of question to the previous class is not easy. An instructor has to remember that it's not the same Airman who is asking those same questions. It's not the same Airman who is experiencing the homesickness, it's not the same Airman who is having anxiety issues that are weighing on his/her ability to grasp the information, and it's not the same Airman who is simply asking for help.

An instructor's job is much more than teaching a technical proficiency to the young men and women entering the Air Force. An instructor is a leader and a mentor who is helping the Airmen transition from civilian life to a productive member of the Air Force. They must know when to step back from the lesson plan in the classroom and mentor the Airmen on the core values and how to overcome life's turbulence that they encounter. An instructor has to be versed in the support agencies available to the Airmen, the skill sets the first sergeants have to offer, the requirements the military training leaders place on the Airmen and the vision of leadership so that they direct the Airmen down a path for success.

All in all, an instructor is the first line of defense in setting the solid foundation for our Airmen of today to lead our Air Force tomorrow. I am proud of our team and I am fully confident in the graduates that leave the gates of Keesler.