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FTDO schools new instructors

By Seaman Lucas T. Hans Defense Information School


All of the instructors at DINFOS must first go through the Instructor Training Course, said Wesley H. Ellenburg, the chief of the Faculty Training and Development Office. There are over 200 instructors currently working at the school. The instructors are taught the fundamentals of effective teaching through knowledge and performance based training. The course lasts 15 training days. The average class size is 12 instructors.

ITC provides the initial training for instructors to prepare them to engage with their future students.

The instructors are told to focus on the students, said Ellenburg. It is no longer about the instructor. It’s about the students. Instructors have to leave their egos at the door. They have to dedicate themselves to creating an environment where their students feel comfortable to learn.

“I do think the ultimate goal of any teacher is to inspire a love of learning,” said Ellenburg.

Ellenburg has worked in the FTDO for 15 years. The office is the hub for all faculty training.

As a recent ITC student, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Lori D. Bent said the class was very beneficial. Her only complaint was that it was too short.

“What I really like about the class is that it really prepares you for the reality of being in the classroom,” said Bent. “It takes all this expectation and anxiety about teaching and throws it out the window.”

The instructors are taught how to take what they already know from experience and teach it in a way that their future students will understand.

The instructors are learning to teach, and teaching is a skill that they develop, said Ellenburg. The instructors come in with a lot of field knowledge, but that doesn’t always correlate to being able to teach others about it.

“Just because you know a lot about your subject, that doesn’t mean you can teach it,” said Ellenburg. “You have to learn the skill. There are basic fundamentals to effective teaching.”

ITC helps instructors find a balance between being themselves and being an instructor.

The class gives the instructors a chance to become more self-aware, said Dave Wiltshire, a faculty developer in FTDO. They explore how an audience would interpret what they’re teaching. A large part of the class is self-discovery.

“I think one of the biggest lessons they learn is a lesson about themselves,” said Wiltshire. “They learn a lot about who they are as a person, who they are as a teacher and how they can connect with other people.”

Wiltshire has been working in FTDO for six years.

A lesson ITC teaches the instructors is how to handle themselves in their interactions with their students.

“Another part of the ITC is a four-hour personality workshop in which instructors identify personality preferences and how they can better manage themselves and the differences in their students while they teach,” said Wiltshire.

The second portion of the course is performance. The instructors have to prepare and present their lesson plans. They teach it in front of their peers. They present four times.

“Even if it’s boring, you still try your best to push through that and show your personality,” said Bent.

ITC also teaches instructors how to engage the students. Some students enjoy class more when it’s interactive.

The class has a high emphasis on active learning, said Wiltshire. It’s important to get students to do something instead of just talking to them. Talking is not teaching.

“The number one thing that’s going to help you be effective as an instructor is making it fun, said Wiltshire. “When learning is fun, it’s engaging. It’s contagious.”

There is more to the making of a teacher than just a lesson plan.

Students remember the instructors that have an impact on them. A passionate instructor will stir passion within their students.

The next ITC begins July 27. They’ll be putting their own stamp on the future of the military soon enough.