_DAV0054-3smallcroppedBy Jonathan Sacks, Transmission and Distribution Training Manager for Cianbro Corporation and the 2015 ABC Craft Instructor of the Year As I developed in my career as a commercial electrician, foreman, small contractor and electrical supervisor on large industrial projects, I continued to ask questions and read or study drawings on my own. My first opportunity to teach was in the evenings at a local community college. The challenge of teaching others in a comprehensive training program made me aware of the gaps in my own training. In order to teach concepts, especially pertaining to electrical theory, I had to completely understand them myself. Teaching motivated me to get that understanding. What I learned through teaching is that there is always more to learn. As a craft instructor, I have come to appreciate a few basics about teaching:
  1. Teaching is not simply presenting, it is about engaging students.
  2. Students will learn when they are motivated and fully involved in the process.
  3. Students will learn from one another and will teach others. Peer instruction can be a very effective teaching method.
  4. Learning takes work and focus. As instructors, we have to expect that of our students.
  5. Students will learn from their mistakes. Classroom activities will allow for a learning curve, but we must not leave students with an unclear understanding of the correct outcomes.
  6. The basics must be repeated and reinforced over and over.
  7. Teaching others is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable jobs that one can have.
  8. There is always something new to learn.
  9. People are worth investing time and effort in.
As craft instructors, it is our job to train and prepare our industry’s future craft professionals and give them the foundation upon which to build fulfilling and rewarding careers. For individuals who are beginning their paths as teachers, I encourage you to show your students why they should learn a particular concept or skill. If a learner truly understands why he or she is doing something or learning something, then they will be more motivated to learn it. Let students learn from one another; one of the best resources we have as instructors are the other students in the class. Learn from every class that you teach; strategies that work for a particular lesson can always be refined and developed. If your lesson does not quite hit the mark, then try a new approach. Each group of students is different, so be sure to get to know them. Cover with titleJonathan Sacks is the 2015 ABC Craft Instructor of the Year. To submit a nomination for the 2016 Craft Instructor of the Year, visit abc.org/en-us/educationtraining/workforcedevelopmentawards/craftinstructoroftheyear.aspx. Nominations are due by Jan. 11, 2016. For the rest of the story, read Jonathan Sacks’ Instructor Insight article in the fall issue of NCCER’s Cornerstone magazine.

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About NCCER

NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.