NCO academies prepare for new Basic Leader Course
By David Crozier, Command Communications
In just eight months, the newly redesigned Basic Leader Course will launch at each of the Army’s 32 NCO Academies. To ensure each academy is prepared to teach the new curriculum, as well as adapt to the new teaching method, the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence and U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy is conducting Train the Trainer sessions for select individuals.
“We are bringing in representatives from all of the NCO academies that teach the Basic Leader Course and giving them training on the new curriculum,” William R. Ogletree Jr., director of Curriculum Development said. “We are doing two weeks – the first is focused on the Experiential Learning Model, problem solving, critical thinking and writing. The second week is focused on the curriculum itself – a deep dive into the lesson plans.”
Ogletree said the individuals will obtain a full immersion into the new course including the assessments and how to deliver the lessons in the classroom.
“The outcome is the representatives who are sitting here for two weeks getting the training, will go back and establish their faculty development program within their respective NCO Academy,” he said. “They can go back and train the folks and their cadre on the new curriculum so that when we do roll out the new course in January, we won’t have as many problems starting out.”
Ogletree said with news of the new curriculum and method of instruction already out on the street there is anxiety with the writing program and the critical thinking piece.
“These are not Army tasks and we are switching from a task-based kind of approach to an educational-based approach,” he said. “Some of the younger NCOs are struggling with this paradigm shift. So if we can get that across to them while they are here they can go back and create their own training program, learn the writing piece and relay some of the critical thinking piece.”
Sgt. 1st Class Stacya Mitchell, a small group leader with the US Army Alaska NCO Academy who is attending the train the trainer course, said the new curriculum for the Basic Leader Course will get Soldiers to think more, to self-assess, and to be independent so that they can gain the confidence the Army needs for them to be leaders.
“I’m actually in awe, because my experience with the Warrior Leader Course was more ‘do this, this is what I want you to do, this is how I want you to do it,’” she said. “There was no thought process to it. I think this allows the soldiers to make more decisions.”
Mitchell said using the Experiential Learning Model is a big plus for the course.
“The Experiential Learning Model is allowing the soldier to generally think on their own,” she said. “With the new curriculum we are going to start bringing them into the thought process and linking it to the Army curriculum, so they will have an understanding on their own versus, ‘Hey you are going to do this, this way and at this time.’”
Mitchell said she would have benefitted greatly from a course like the new BLC.
“I [could] see myself as a first sergeant already. I would have excelled because I know I would have all the tools I needed to be that leader the Army wants,” she said. “I wouldn’t be as reactive; I would have been a lot more proactive earlier in my career.”
The validation of the new Basic Leader Course is already complete, Ogletree said. The NCOL CoE & USASMA conducted four series of validations at seven different location – all with favorable feedback. The launch of the new course is set for January 2019.
“We made some adjustments, but all in all the feedback we got is we are going in the right direction,” he said. “The curriculum is solid; this is what the students want and need to know. We got it right.”
The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence and U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy is responsible for developing, maintaining, teaching, and distributing five levels of Enlisted Professional Military Education – Introductory, Primary, Intermediate, Senior and Executive. Each level best prepares the soldier to fight and win in a complex world as adaptive and agile leaders and trusted professionals of Force 2025.