Shape the future: IT1 Neil Garrand

Shape the Future: IT1 Neil Garrand

Editor’s note: This instructor profile is part of a series profiling some of the best instructors within the FORCECOM enterprise. Force Readiness Command will be featuring outstanding instructors regularly who go above and beyond to help shape the future of the Coast Guard. Petty Officer Garrand is a primary instructor for IT “A” School, teaching the CompTIA A+ and Core Electronics sections. He also serves as a class advisor, assisting students with their transition from non-rate to petty officer.

Interview conducted by Lt. Erin Chlum.

1. What made you decide to become an instructor?

I realized I wanted to have a direct impact on the IT rating. I also sought the opportunity to develop and sharpen my leadership abilities.

2. What do you find most motivating or rewarding in your role as an instructor?

Seeing the impact you have on the students; helping them through their struggles; molding them into responsible, confident Petty Officers. I feel rewarded every time I attend an IT ‘A’ School graduation ceremony.

3. What are some of the lessons you have learned from your students?

The most important lesson I learned from our students is to respect them individually, as well as collectively. IT students are smart. Many of them are coming to ‘A’ school with degrees. Still, some students have no experience with computers or phones. Respecting each student’s knowledge, experience and ability will take you a long way in finding the most effective way to facilitate their learning the IT course material.

4. Where do you want to go for your next assignment, and how will this tour as an instructor help you in your career?

I would like a billet where I can serve as a supervisor, in at least some capacity. This tour as an instructor has helped my career by giving me valuable experience in developing subordinates, using rate-related resources, and handling personnel and administrative issues.

5. Share a memorable anecdote or “sea story” from your time as an instructor…or, describe the most significant challenge you have overcome as an instructor.

IT1 Neil Garrand, an instructor at IT "A" school, instructs and mentors students through challenges. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

IT1 Neil Garrand, an instructor at IT “A” school, instructs and mentors students through challenges. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

One of my more rewarding memories was seeing a struggling student qualify to take the A+ certification exam. This student really wanted to take this exam and was willing to put in the extra work to earn it. The extra study hours put in by me and the student were worth the end result; the student relentlessly persevered and earned their A+ certification. My encouragement and dedication made a difference.

6. Describe some new or innovative methods or equipment you are using in the classroom.

I’ve learned how to incorporate a variety of tools to effectively deliver IT course material: hardware, software, hand tools, and display options. I’ve learned how to keep the instruction fresh by having students work in large and small groups to accomplish learning objectives.

7. How do you ensure that you keep current, teaching students the most up-to-date information and skills they will need?

To make sure I am using the most up-to-date information, I’ve learned to be a student myself. The best instructors are students of their craft. You must always be willing to learn, understand and apply new technology, specifications and standards in the IT rating.

8. Are there specific experiences, skills, or knowledge you have found helpful in this tour as an instructor?

As an instructor, I have developed a set of layered leadership skills. It is helpful to know how to effectively coach and communicate with students and staff. It is equally important to know when to direct, delegate or facilitate.

9. What would you say to someone who is considering a tour as an instructor?

Take the following into consideration:
•Become an instructor if you want to serve the IT rate by developing our new ITs.
•Become an instructor if you want to enhance your leadership skills by developing our new Petty Officers.
•Don’t become an instructor if the only reason you’re interested is because you like the location.

10. Who do you think would make a great instructor? What would you say to encourage them to pursue assignment to an instructor billet?

Good instructors are motivated, work well with others, and have a desire to pay attention to the smallest details. The best instructors want to serve as highly visible and respected ambassadors for the IT rate and for the Coast Guard.

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