The AGE of Reason

AGE instruction provides an interactive and innovative venue for airmen to develop not only their professional lives, but their personal lives as well.

From all walks of life, a few enlisted men and women have found themselves reaping the unexpected benefits aligned with Aerospace Ground Support (AGE) instruction. Whether they volunteer or are assigned to the new career path, AGE instructors ascertain that while it is a challenging process, it only leads to professional betterment.

The Air Force has a seemingly endless list of tracks and professions available at the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF). To those who think they know everything about AGE equipment, a brief stint as an AGE instructor will prove otherwise.

So was the case for a handful of airmen from the 361st training squadron at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas who stayed the course and endured 36 apprentice hours, five craftsmen hours and ten supplemental hours en route to an associate's degree in AGE instruction.

But why be an AGE instructor? How does one become an AGE instructor? What does an AGE instructor do?

Commitment Is Key

AGE instruction is a 39-month career commitment, which is often extended due to the gratifying experience.

The initial process is fairly easy to initiate. Complete and submit the paperwork, which consists of approval from the squadron commander, performance reports and CCAF transcripts. The only other requirements are to be within one year of a CCAF associates degree and have medical clearance. Then it's a waiting game as the Air Force Personnel Center determines your fate. Once the teacher-in-training receives the good news, he has one year to complete his associate's degree.

The first four weeks are spent in basic instructor's courses. The CCAF lays the foundation with core classes in lesson planning, public speaking and a broad overview of how to be an instructor. An instructor has to be prepared for everything as Master Sergeant (MSgt) Eric Dudash states, "In my four-and-a-half years I haven't seen everything, but I have seen things I never would have seen if I were out in the field. You're dealing with people that miss home, people that have [children], people with personal problems from marriages to divorces … and this is the their first time away from home being in a military unit."

"When I first got here they told me we will spend 85 percent of the time dealing with 15 percent of the students because that 15 percent are the ones with behavior problems," Technical Sergeant (TSgt) Samuel Cole said.

After preparing the instructor-in-training for the unexpected, they delve into content, shadowing trained instructors as they lead classes on the Dash-86 and other equipment. This provides the student with an opportunity to observe a future colleague's lesson plan and tweak his/her lesson plans based on what works with the students.

Next comes a little role reversal as the trained instructor takes a back seat and observes the trainee in action. If the instructor states that the trainee is qualified then he/she is able to teach that block of instruction without a shadow.

You can walk away with quite the bounty of AGE-old knowledge after nearly 15 blocks of instruction, at which point you are prepared to step in front of the class on your own. At Sheppard in seven-level, the instructors teach about six classes each. Active duty for instructors is four blocks (two-and-a-half weeks), guard reserve is three blocks (two weeks) and a technician course is also offered in an eight block (six week) period.

"The benefit of teaching here is that you think you know the equipment, but to get out and teach it in front of a classroom, you have to step your game up to a whole different level," Technical Sergeant (TSgt) James Gerber said. "You're studying this equipment like it was a test, because you're teaching and there are going to be questions that you sometimes can't answer. I know how to use (the equipment), but it has to sink in my brain so as soon as you ask me a question, I'll know the answer."

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