Monitoring weather conditions that can affect safety of personnel and resources

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Devyn Waits
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

At the 81st Training Group, technical training instructors play a fundamental role in shaping an Airman’s journey into the operational field.

Master Sgt. Jaren Durham, 335th Training Squadron weather instructor, teaches initial skills training to introduce Airmen to the basic elements of their Air Force Specialty Code. Durham strives to ensure his students fully understand the significance of their career, which involves monitoring weather conditions that can affect the safety of personnel and resources.

“I always tell my students that nothing in weather is absolute,” said Durham. “We’re always teaching definitions of what we do in the weather career field, but we must recognize the intensity of our job. That’s why I love to give them my operational stories to allow them to see what our expectations are.”

Durham elaborated more on his passion for teaching his students.

Q: What inspired you to become an instructor?

A: “I went through the First Term Airman Course at Shaw Air Force Base. When I finished my classes as an Airman, I knew that’s what I wanted to do, but I knew I’d have to be an NCO to fulfill that role. Fast forward, I ended up back at Shaw AFB two assignments later and applied to become an FTAC instructor for six months before I became an instructor here at Keesler. Having the experiences twice of being a teacher and being able to pour into the next generation of Airmen has been wonderful.”

Q: What is the most rewarding part of being an instructor?

A: “The most rewarding part is seeing the lightbulb come on when they get that ‘Ah hah’ moment and can teach what they’ve learned to their peers. I pull moments from my time as a student to my time as an instructor to make sure my students understand the foundational concepts of their weather training.”

Q: How do you feel about working with the next generation of military professionals?

A: “I love it. I heard my flight chief say ‘It's not my Air Force anymore’ and would tell me it’s not my Air Force anymore either. While rank structure and authority designate us as the leaders, the Airmen drive innovation and I’m there to help steer it, make positive change and help them achieve their goals through my experience.”

Q: What is the most challenging or surprising part of being an instructor?

A: “As far as the process of teaching, initially it was hard. The learning curve was challenging coming back and having to know the material at an high level. To qualify, the standard is for all instructors to pass no-notice tests with a 90 or above. That was a little daunting at first, but my initial reason for coming back was to progress my knowledge of the career. Once you get the flow of what's expected and get the hang of managing administrative tasks, it’s a satisfying job to perform.” 

Q: What would you say to anyone who is interested in becoming an instructor?

A: “You must come in with an open mind and have a lot of initiative, as well as enthusiasm. Coming in here with a dry attitude won’t work. If you make the training solely about the material, the students won’t gravitate towards you. They’re not going to be relaxed and you won’t find out how they learn, so enthusiasm and cultivating a relaxed environment is key. You also have to show initiative for your students - you need to make sure your students understand the material despite the duty day ending. I’ve seen several instructors that have stayed an hour or two to make sure their students understand. Instructors must approach teaching with an understanding that their way isn’t the only way. When it comes to a learning environment, we should always be striving to expand and grow our mindset.”