By Eric PilgrimSeptember 27, 2018
More than a dozen instructors and hopeful instructors sat in the small classroom at Skidgel Hall Sept. 21, 2018, as the senior enlisted advisor from 83rd U.S. Army Reserve Readiness Training Center spoke to them.
They had successfully navigated the 10-day, 80-hour Common Faculty Development - Instructors Course and were waiting to graduate as he stood before them.
"One day, you all will move on from your assignment as an instructor and you'll move back to your MOS's, or branches, or fields, and go back to the operating force," said Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Roderiques Jr., senior enlisted advisor for 83rd U.S. ARRTC. "When you do, in the particular disciplines that you've been teaching in your present schoolhouses you'll be absolute subject matter experts."
Among the group of Americans, many of whom had little to no teaching experience prior to the course, sat two soldiers with a combined teaching resume spanning 40-plus years.
Captains Pia Goul and Gitte Kvist are part of an international military student exchange program that started here earlier this year, where U.S. Soldiers attend courses in Denmark as some Danish soldiers get the opportunity to attend the instructors course at Fort Knox. Goul and Kvist were members of the third class to have participated in the exchange program to date.
"It has been very great to see how [the Americans instruct Soldiers] because they do it in a very different way but actually also in the same way in some forms," said Goul. "It has been very inspiring."
The two teach at Home Guard Academy in Denmark, both having joined the staff at the same time more than 20 years ago.
Army officials at the Fort Knox schoolhouse said the purpose of the exchange program is to build partnerships with other nations and share experiences. Besides Goul and Kvist, five other Danes have graduated from two previous courses.
Leaders from other organizations are beginning to take notice. The students received a visit from Brig. Gen. Twanda Young, deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Sept. 13. However, staff, fellow students and faculty praised Goul and Kvist as the rock stars of the class.
"They've been great," said Bobby Johnson, chief of Staff and Faculty at 83rd. "They're higher ranking than most of our students, and they have a tremendous work ethic. They are very smart; they come from the Home Guard school, so it's a school like this. But these two actually teach the instructor course there.
"When they came in, they brought a wealth of knowledge and opened right up; and the students were very receptive to them. There's been excellent dialogue from day one."
The course is designed for new faculty members to get a foothold on how to instruct military students in a formal setting. According to the manual of instruction, the learning objectives are based on internationally recognized instructor competencies published by the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction. The instruction includes instructor roles and responsibilities, teaching and learning models, and professional and ethical requirements as well as classroom management techniques, development of lessons plans, and how to communicate effectively.
Among the students who enjoyed learning from Goul and Kvist was Lt. Col. Angela Gooch, who said she hopes to incorporate the lessons soon.
"I really learned a lot from them, not only from work, but also being personable and talking, and getting to know each other," said Gooch. "It was a great experience."
As the director of Sustainment for 83rd, Gooch said she has never formally instructed students before this course but hopes to do so in the near future, explaining that the Danish students the course curriculum provided her a lot to think about if she gets the chance.
"Sometimes they were instructing us and sometimes they were critiquing us and vice versa, so we got to learn a lot from each other," Gooch said. "I learned a lot about myself, and I learned about some great ways to get the point across and teach all sorts of different people."
Like Goul, Kvist said she came into the course with a lot of educational and practical experience. Kvist has worked in some form of education for 33 years, whether outside the Danish schoolhouse or within it. She said she has taught as many as 200 American students at the academy in Denmark.
Despite having experience, Kvist said she learned a lot from the instructors and all the students, whether the students had instructor experience or not.
"Something I'll take home with me is the way they actually work with the different learning styles and think about it in the whole process," Kvist said. "We know about the learning styles but we don't adapt it that much.
"Something I hopefully gave to the class is that we are very much into collaborative learning in Denmark."