Student -- > Teacher -- > Student
Over a year and a half ago I started a new trek in my life. I gave up a job I'd had for 14 years, for a 6 month contract job in hopes that they might consider hiring me for full time. I had a family to support, bills to pay, life to live. Needless to say, it was a risky endeavor to take with so much on the line. But I had to do something, for my own sake.
A Leap and a Step
Since that time I have pushed myself hard to get where I am now. Being less than young and without a sponge for a brain, I had to find new methods for myself to improve. Bashing my head with a book over and over again didn't have the same appeal that it used to. But with effort and perseverance I was able to make my success. It didn't come to me, no one handed it to me, it wasn't wrapped up in a nice box for a present. I had to study new concepts, write down ideas and convert them in my head from what I knew in the past so it would make sense. I was literally creating a new language in my head so that I could understand was was being told. After all of the courses, all of the studying, all of the testing, and all of the exams, I finally passed them all. With pretty colors too. I was done with it, now I could go on to the real work.
The company decided it best to do away with the old certifications, and the methods thereof, and make a new and improved way to screw with my head. All of my old certifications were to become invalid. I needed to recertify. Huh? What? Um, I'll pass please. I can't do that again. I need backup. Seriously I can't do this all again all by myself. It's just too much. Nope. Really just the thought scared me, literally. The old method was to take the classes, study, and then take the exam online. The exam's were open book. The final test was to architect an entire environment from nothing to completion, and it had to work solid. The new methods were to take the classes, study, then take the CLOSED BOOK exam in a proctored classroom. Man, no way no how my brain could study and remember everything in these books. Why bother trying?
Fate is Fickle
But I knew that when or if it came down to it, I would do it all over again and I would freak out about it all over again. I would try and I would try. I'd give it my best until they told me to stop. But I wasn't going to put my neck out there until I had to. There were other engineers that were getting recertified each week.
Something funny happened on the way to school one day
We were creating a new and improved method to teach our new engineers. We were going to hold their hands each step of the way. Training them about our company, how great things are, how to do your job, and 'lo and behold we were going to walk them through all of the classes together one step at a time and get them certified. I was asked (think told but with a question mark at the end) to take the second class of new engineers and spend the next 2 1/2 months with them taking them from wide eyed newb to eager and agressive shiny engineers screaming to go show the veteran engineers how to do the job. First class size was 2. My class size is 10. Slight step up.
Slow Deep Breaths
In the beginning, it was a struggle to get anything from anyone. No information was passed down, there was no structure, nothing. I finally got access to the notes the first trainer was using and his notes. I sat with him for a bit and went over most things. Things weren't really in order, but I got the general idea on where I needed to be at the end of the class. So with that I was able to put together the steps and time frame. Brett was really helpful, but really neither of us were teachers so we were just mostly winging it.
List of Names
About a week or so before the class began, I was able to get a list on who was going to be joining me in class. But with no rooms available, we were able to push meetings around and get us a conference room to live in for the next 2 months. I miss my desk already. But what got me was, as my wife is a teacher she has great ideas. But how do you train adults? How do I teach anyone? I do know a few things, these 'students' have experience and will understand most of the language I'm using. I know the concepts and I also know how to convert these new concepts into a language they can understand. So I felt ok with my new tasks at hand. I just had to learn the people and how to handle things. I followed a very simple plan to the best outcome I could get.
New Days, New Questions
During my days and lessons and teaching's I'd found that with their never ending, on going, bottomless pit of questions, I was learning more and more. Their questions would cause me to ask them to look up the answers with me. During these days I would begin to incorporate information to close the gaps for them but wasn't available until later classes. I had them create servers, connect them, ingest data, set up distributed searching, install licenses, create license masters and slaves. Then we'd tear them all down and would do it all over again the next day. They wondered why I was doing this over and over. My response "I'm giving you a chance to play with our applications and configurations, which is helping you learn where to find the information out online. Consider its a journey that you learn things along the way." During this time we would also study. We went through the first class, Fundamentals I, and they were basically drinking in information like it was from a firehose. But we all passed the exam and were now certified. This gave everyone new hope and energy. They were excited for the next class. Mistake. Fundamentals II was much more difficult with more information to ingest. But we all worked together. We all asked questions and we all searched for answers. Collaboration was in effect and it was awesome.
Move Slowly Move Surely
With the exams on the next certification, you could tell the tension was high. But they were starting to connect the dots and understand how things would work together. The more we studied, the more confident we became. Soon we began taking the exam and we were passing it. Joy and relief filled the room with news of someone else becoming certified. I personally took the test again and was not nervous at all. I knew I'd pass with experience and new found knowledge I'd gained from training 10 other people. So now here we all, ready to take the next step in our evolution and growth. Upward and onward.
Don't Be too Eager Young Ones
The next classes were for administration. I obtained the 'blue print' of the Admin certification exam and what it covered. I read this aloud to them all and showed them what information it tested on. To their amazement, they had already practiced and studied almost 80% of it. As I looked out into the classroom, I could see their smiles grow wider and wider as they began to realize what I had done the past 3 weeks. Unbeknownst to them, I was teaching them a little bit of admin, and a little bit of architect. They were playing, I was teaching.
At the end of this week, everyone was exhuberent at making it successfully to the next step. None appeared worried about the upcoming classes or the possibility of what is on the exam. At the end of the day I looked into each person's face and the look I saw was one of fatigue but also one of confidence in what they knew. I looked and I saw that they were becoming engineers. I left the office today tired, but I felt accomplished. Tomorrow, again and like always, holds new hope for us all. We only have to reach for it.