The Newsis in the midst of its second annual “Best Hvacr Instructor” contest. It’s always pretty uplifting to get a nomination in the mail from a student that gushes about his or her instructor.

Of course it was probably inevitable that I would receive a couple comments from former and current students about how horrible their instructors were.

On The News forum, one frequent visitor said he would have to nominate his past instructors for a “Worst Hvacr Instructor” contest. I don’t think we’ll be starting that contest anytime soon.

Is There a Problem?

I don’t think the “horrible” instructor syndrome is an epidemic. I’ve definitely received far more positive feedback about instructors than negative. I also find myself writing fairly positive articles about instructors and their programs.

Recently, I wrote about the Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Institute’s (ARI’s) instructor workshop in Arlington, VA. Over 100 instructors came out to learn how to better their teaching techniques. That has to count for something, right?

Last year’s instructor contest was also proof that the industry has great instructors. In fact, we had a difficult time trying to narrow down the finalists.

I know there are excellent instructors out there, so why was I taken aback by two measly comments about less-than-competent instructors? Why would I want to devote editorial space to a few people that have very little praise for their instructors?

I suppose it’s because I feel the need to defend our instructors, and yet at the same time I feel like our instructors could do more.

For every superhero instructor, there is probably one who only cares about getting a paycheck. And even though over 100 educators participated in the ARI instructor workshop, there probably could have been over 1,000 participating.

The comments I received just reiterated what I already know and what probably bears repeating. Our instructors are extremely important. What kind of industry do we have without our instructors?

Hvacr instructors, and teachers in general, are overworked, underpaid, and held up to a great deal of scrutiny and criticism. The majority of teachers do not do what they do for the money. They do it for the joy of educating people. More importantly, they do it to contribute to the industry by developing qualified workers.

So when I hear from readers that their experience with an instructor has been less than satisfactory, I start to see warning signs. How can we expect our future technicians to perform well, on a technical level and a personal level, when their instructor didn’t care? If their instructors put them to sleep in the classroom, how can you expect them to have any desire to get out into the field?

Help Find a Solution

Of course I’m not saying all instructors are bad, but we can all agree that there are some less-than-adequate instructors. So what’s the answer to this problem? I honestly have no idea. And although I don’t know how to remedy this, I do have a suggestion.

As a member of the industry and as a News reader, we need your feedback. How do you think we should solve some of the educational problems? What do you think instructors need to do to improve their game? I’m sure a great deal of you went through an apprenticeship program or attended a vocational school. During that time, what got under your skin?

Of course, we don’t have to dwell only on the negative. Give us feedback on what you believe our instructors are doing right. Tell us about the effective activities and teaching methods you have seen implemented by instructors. By sharing those ideas, another instructor can take note and adopt the same philosophies. How do we share these ideas? My first suggestion would be to visit our hvacr forum at our website: Post your comments and your suggestions. The forum is a great way to network with others in the industry and to share ideas.

And if that’s not enough, nominate an instructor for our “Best Hvacr Instructor” contest. If you know an instructor who could be used as a model for other instructors, nominate him or her. Not only will this let others in the industry know how to be a better instructor, it can provide great recognition for that teacher you admire.

You can nominate an instructor at The News website or just fill out the entry form on page 25 of this issue and send it to us. But time is running out. Entries must be postmarked by May 21, 2001.

Siegel is training & education editor. He can be reached at 248-244-1731; 248-362-0317 (fax); (e-mail).