I think a lot of fire service instructors depend on the connection they create with the student to determine successes or failures with their delivery. Being connected as a class can produce outcomes that exceed all expectations of what the group might have originally thought. I recently took place in a focus group with five of my classmates from my Executive Fire Officer (EFO) year four team. We were helping one classmate with his dissertation research questions for his doctorate degree. It was amazing to see how fast this small group became connected again to share stories and experiences like we were only at the National Fire Academy last week. When I left the Academy after my EFO was completed, I had promised to stay in touch with these outstanding individuals. It started off as it usually does, reaching out and sharing updates. Then we all fell short diving into our busy lives and careers. This focus group that I participated in reminded me how important those connections are. Sharing information, stories, lessons learned, and most importantly, knowledge. I immediately reached out to the entire class like I promised I would. The response was awesome to say the least. Several members enthusiastically got the conversation started again, and at a minimum were happy to say hello.
Another example of connection does not have anything to do with the fire service or being an instructor. I drive an hour and a half one way (short drive in Montana) to attend a gym. The reason I do this is because of the culture and the members. We self-proclaim ourselves as the “Tribe”. However, it is deeper than that. We all have a common connection with each other to better improve and train. None of us have a social connection with each other outside the gym, yet when we are in the gym it's as if we have been friends since childhood. The connection is so deep that when one member does not show up for a while someone picks up the phone to see if they are all right or needs some help. The connection is strong and fierce.
My last example of the importance of connection is with the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. This organization is truly how I have met some of the best friends of my life. I connected with people who share the same problems, challenges, solutions, and frustrations in the fire service. I have learned how to become a better instructor, mentor, and friend. This Society is the platform that can become an instructor’s biggest asset to create success beyond measure. The website is the ultimate vehicle to create connection and grow your organization the way you have always wanted it to be. The Mentor and Coaching Initiative shows the ability to become connected with other instructors that share the same demographics as you and can help with solutions in your organization. Asking questions on the Membership Forum instantly connects you to the entire membership that might be wondering the same thing. Taking classes and improving your Professional Development connects you with other instructors around the country and increases your view to get outside your bubble of influence. The Resource Library connects you with an endless stream of training resources to fuel your training program. Becoming connected to ISFSI is truly the best thing that has happened in my career. So, when someone needs something, posts something, asks a question, or reaches out for help, connect with them. You never know when you will need the same in return.
Happy Holidays Everyone! Thanks for everything you have done for me.
Stay Safe and Healthy