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. Chief Warrant Officer Craig Kerby is a primary instructor for the Team Leader/Facilitator Course at the Leadership Development Center in New London, Conn.; he also teaches Leadership and Management School, Junior Officer LAMS, and the Instructor Development Course. He is a qualified Master Training Specialist; the highest level of professional achievement in the instructor corps. Interview conducted by Chief Warrant Officer William Epperson.
1. What made you decide to become an instructor?
I wanted a challenge. I’m a natural introvert and felt uncomfortable getting up in front of people to speak – I wanted to overcome that! I also wanted to grow as a leader and to make a difference in the students’ lives. I helped organize some LAMS classes, and as I sat in the back, I watched the light bulbs going on in the heads of the E-5s. Afterward, I got to have follow-up conversations with them. I wanted to be a bigger part of that process.
2. What do you find most motivating or rewarding in your role as an instructor?
It’s very rewarding when I get that follow-on phone call or discussion after class, and I can provide service to the students by answering a question or helping them out. It’s great to know that the students trust me to be there for them all the time, not just during class.
3. What are some of the lessons you have learned from your students?
I get to experience a little humility from the students – admitting I don’t know it all. I learn from students in every class section, from E-5s to O-6s.
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’ll be going back into my F&S specialty. I will definitely take with me these leadership skills and how to apply them every day, along with meeting management and process improvement skills I’ve learned here at the LDC. I’m going to continue to give back to the LDC by staying involved as either an instructor or a Team Leader/Facilitator coach.
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.
I remember one of the most inspiring students was someone who at first, barely made it through her first facilitation in front of the group. But with a little coaching and encouragement, and regular check-ins, she built up confidence to overcome that challenge. When I saw her again about a year later, she said how much that experience helped her be more liberated and confident in front of other people.
6. Describe some new or innovative methods or equipment you are using in the classroom.
We’ve made the Team Leader/Facilitator course a very interactive learning environment – we aim to have students practice everything we teach.
7. How do you ensure that you keep current, teaching students the most up-to-date information and skills they will need?
I attend free online facilitation webinars and do interagency work and training. I’m always looking for outside pro-dev opportunities to see how other people implement these leadership and facilitation skills.
8. Are there specific experiences, skills, or knowledge you have found helpful in this tour as an instructor?
I know I’ll find everything I learned here useful, because we don’t just go teach the skills, we’re actually using them to help other units in their own leadership endeavors. We incorporate that real-world experience in our classes.
9. What would you say to someone who is considering a tour as an instructor?
This tour can be incredibly rewarding; it’s all what you make of it. The more you make yourself available, the more you’ll realize how worthwhile the continued connection with students is. It’s hard work – not physical labor, but constantly learning and practicing skills.
10. Who do you think would make a great instructor? What would you say to encourage them to pursue assignment to an instructor billet?
Anyone who wants to make a difference in anything they do would be a great instructor. If you’re interested, learn about the main topics and conversations about leadership, and reach out to the LDC.