IMI Helps BAC Members Become Teachers
Journal: Issue 5 - 2006
One career option for BAC members at the top of their game is teaching. In past years, as members transitioned to the field of instruction, they might have received guidance from their Local’s training veteran, or simply a hearty “good luck.” Today’s BAC members-turned-instructors, however, can rely on IMI’s Instructor Certification Program (ICP) for state-of-the-art professional instruction on both technical masonry subjects and on the business of teaching.
In a message to the Program’s 168 instructors, including 20 new graduates, BAC President John J. Flynn said, “By integrating and reinforcing ICP’s standards of professionalism, performance criteria, and commitment to lifelong learning at the Local training level, you’re moving us closer to a uniform training system that will better serve our members and the industry.”
Now in its third decade, ICP covers all BAC crafts – brick, tile, terrazzo, stone, marble, cement, plaster, and restoration. One week every year, BAC and IMI instructors get hands-on familiarization in all those trades, and gain exposure to the latest materials like AAC block and coatings, and installation trends, such as grout certification. In addition, recent developments in training curriculum are reviewed.
This year’s group also practiced using the IMI Training Management System. The System’s database helps Locals track the training status of members from apprenticeship to retirement, including safety, upgrade, cross-craft and specialty training, and even their ICP participation.
Along with attending a packed schedule of courses, instructors had the chance to compare notes with instructors from all over the BAC/IMI training network. For this year’s graduates, some of the most valuable classes were those on the different styles of adult learning, preparing lesson plans, managing time, and dealing with difficult people.
“I learned how people learn,” says Mike Needham, a plaster instructor from Local 3 New York. Needham began teaching apprentices in 1998, and started attending ICP the next year “to help me get through to the kids,” he says.
Curt Colo, a brick instructor from Local 1 Michigan, got started teaching when his predecessor handed him the keys, literally. “I was intimidated, and I was skeptical,” he says. However, ICP helps instructors get past those feelings. With his ICP training, says Colo, “I was able to bridge the gap among my students.
I learned new ways to motivate people. It’s enlightened me a lot.” Colo adds that his ICP skills also help with recruiting new members. “I can talk to anyone now, and I like to sell our program. If I can make a difference in one person’s outlook, then I’m doing my job.”
“When I started teaching, I didn’t feel qualified,” says Mike Hooper of Local 56 Illinois who teaches plaster at the Illinois District Council Training Center. “The biggest thing I took away is how to assess different abilities and adapt to them.” Being able to give back motivated Dan Palazzo to go through ICP. “I wanted to give back for what the trade gave to me,” says the Rochester training coordinator for Local 3 New York, who became an officer ten years ago, and graduates one year after his brother Bob. “I have gotten so much from ICP.”
Jim Ciras from Local 1 Massachusetts/Vermont laid brick to pay for college and went on to teach high school and college math before joining BAC in 1989. Now, he teaches apprentices and journey-level members in brick and PCC, as well as OSHA, supervisor certification, blueprint reading, and trade math. Yet even this professional teacher learned from ICP. “I apply everything. It made me think about the little things,” he says. And his students notice. “We learn together.”
Such benefits have swelled ICP attendance and created the largest graduating class, with 20 instructors becoming certified in 2006.
Earning that certification is a matter of justified pride. After investing a minimum of 200 hours in ICP courses, instructors have to demonstrate mastery of course content and develop a comprehensive Training Materials Portfolio.
While it is a significant commitment of time and effort, it is worth it, the latest graduates say. “Every time I’ve attended,” says Nick Reale of Local 5 of the New Jersey Administrative District Council, “they’ve taught me one more thing, on a higher level. I learned how to teach and it opened my world.”
SOADC’s Linscott and Tom Pietrzak of Local 22 of the Northern Ohio Administrative District Council were the first from their areas to go through ICP, and found it daunting without any precedents to follow. “But ICP is all about what you put into it,” says Linscott. “We will be able to mentor the guys coming up.”
For Michael Bennett of Local 3 California, sharp instructors are critical to BAC’s future. The Sacramento Chapter Chair and tile instructor deals with four different languages in his classes and varying skill levels of setters and finishers. “I am the face of BAC for a lot of members,” notes Bennett.
“I treat them with respect, and I give them what they need. What I am really trying to teach them is brotherhood.”