Making an NCO

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- I learned a lot of useful information and tools during Airman Leadership School. However, nothing came close to the lesson I learned one particular day. The day we learned about the different phases of team development was the day I truly understood the Air Force and how we all work together.

Teams are put together for all kinds of reasons. Our team came together to learn valuable Air Force lessons and graduate as knowledgeable future NCOs. We accomplished our mission but not without a few bumps in the road. However, with the help of our instructors and the incentive of not repeating the course, we made our way through all the phases of team development.

In the beginning, we were all very polite toward one another, which is an indicator my team of 13 was in the first phase of team development, forming. We all were on our best behavior and we were very courteous to each other. We said "please" and "thank you." We raised our hands and did not talk when it was not our turn to speak. We introduced ourselves by rank and last name. By the end of the first day we had met everyone in the team and were eager to start working together to graduate.

But that kindness and politeness did not last long. We quickly turned inpatient and irritable as we entered the phase of debating and arguing called storming. During the storming stage, we learned that teams often fight and bicker about how to accomplish the mission. Also, people start to come out of their shell and personalities begin to clash. Our team definitely experienced this stage to the fullest. I realized I did not get along with everyone in the class, which is not like my personality at all. However, there were personalities in my class that I had never met before. I'm not sure if everyone felt the same way but I know a lot of people were on the edge.

Even though, we argued and yelled majority of the time we still came together when we needed to. After all, we still needed to complete the mission our team came together for, which was to graduate. With this is mind, we worked together instead of bickering, which put us in the norming stage. This is the phase where we accept other people's differences for the good of the mission.

Norming also meant we established ground rules as a team and assigned jobs to each individual in the group. My job was to take pictures of my classmates and instructors for morale and documentation purposes. In addition, I was part of the community service committee, which organized a trash pickup near the back gate. Everyone was assigned a job to perform everyday and without getting these small jobs done on a daily basis, we never would have walked across the stage.

Completing our specific assigned duties, passing our tests and running our butts off in physical training put us in the performing stage of team development. This stage is where we started executing all the actions and tasks necessary for us to graduate. Since we all wanted to complete ALS we all saw past the drama and started working together to see that goal through. We precisely completed drill evaluation and repeatly rocked our uniform inspections. We even started helping one another when one of us would fall behind in any one area. My team really started getting things done and our hard work paid off.

Finally, we were flying through everything presented in front of us and we even started counting down the days. Before we knew it, graduation day had come. This stage, probably the hardest of them all, is adjourning, where a team completes their assigned mission and the individuals part ways.

I made a lot of new friends, some of those friends I became very close with. I didn't want to stay at ALS any longer than I had to but I also didn't want the ride to stop. The last day of ALS is a lot like the last day of high school, you never know if you are ever going to see anyone again. As each Airman walked across the stage I wondered if I would ever work side-by-side with them in a deployed environment. I would lay down my life for every single one of those Airmen.

In light of the whole experience, ALS is not just about teaching and learning. For me, it was about understanding the importance of being a good supervisor and NCO. I realize now that I am taking on a major role that will impact the careers and lives of young Airmen who come under my supervision. I'm glad the Air Force has this school because without it I think a lot of new staff sergeants would not have the tools necessary to take on this responsibility.

I am proud to have been a part of class 10-F and wish everyone the best of luck.