Logging a Complaint Against an Instructor - Expectation vs Reality

Messages
5
Hello pointsixtyfive.

Not a first-timer here, but I have created this account to preserve my anonymity for what are hopefully obvious reasons.

I am currently attending classes at MMAC. As one might expect, the material has gotten substantially more difficult with each passing week. While I've encountered some difficulties in my studies, I personally have not struggled with any of the material for a prolonged period, however, I am noticing that some of my classmates are, and I don't think it's for reasons related to study habits or talent. One classmate of mine is very studious, but they seem to leave their capabilities at the classroom door. I don't think it's a coincidence that our lead seems to be very particularly, loudly, and downright obnoxiously critical of them, almost as if to publicly shame them. Unsurprisingly, I have watched this individual's morale deteriorate over the weeks. No doubt they are having a tough time with the material, but the repeated abuse they endure in the classroom has to be deterring their ability to effectively learn and practice while on campus.

I have received a somewhat similar, albeit less severe and less frequent treatment from our lead, and for whatever reason, it's only incentivized me to understand the material. I can even see the potential value in "simulating" the pressure of the evaluations in the classroom environment, however, I also feel like the classroom and the lab are places for learning primarily, and our instructor's inability to provide a more dynamic style of instruction is obviously adversely affecting some students' ability to do so. I can handle the abuse, and might even appreciate it at times, but it's clear to me that our lead doesn't have any desire to accommodate learning styles that might suffer under his current methods.

I know our lead can flip the switch. He does so for a female student, which I don't think is a coincidence. I just get the sense, generally, that he'd rather be snide and condescending than informative, especially should you have any sort of clarifying question. Long story short, I am thinking of filing a complaint. I am not sure how often this sort of thing happens at MMAC, or what sort of recourse I can expect through a formal complaint process. I think some of my classmates would agree with my assessment and cooperate, however, I'd like to know if anyone has had any experience doing such a thing and could clarify. My obvious fear is that something will be said to our instructor, but that nothing beyond that will happen, and that may come with some sort of retaliation.

Feel free to PM your responses. Any input would be appreciated.
 
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js1031

Trusted Contributor
Messages
71
Don't mean to sound harsh, but the the critique and feedback you get at the academy is nothing compared to what you will experience during OJT at your first facility. Imagine how a trainer will react after you screw up when real aircraft are involved. There is a reason they are tough on you at the academy. They want to start to condition you into dealing with the pressure when there are zero lives at stake. Not everyone is built to deal with that kind of pressure. 90% of the academy is a mind game. You have to learn to take the feedback, keep your mouth shut, learn from your mistakes and move on. It's not easy at first but trust me it gets easier. One day at the academy, my class was absolutely roasted by our instructor at the end of class. We ended up having two people quit the next day. Both ended up regretting the decision. We felt like one of the worst academy classes ever to come through OKC. A few more also considered quitting in the following days, but decided to stick it out to the end. After taking a a hard look at ourselves, we realized that even though the instructor was being a bit of a dick, he was right. We buckled down, took the feedback and ended up going 5/6. Looking back, had the instructor not grilled us like he did, I don't think I would have a job today.
 
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Messages
10
My advice, speak to your instructor one on one after class. Voice this same energy and funnel it into a respectable conversation with them. I 100% believe that classroom dynamic is important to everyones success in that room. I will provide an example below.

Our class was in an extremely tough spot and didnt know how to pass inbounds on NR problem 18. Imagine the yelling that took place from not only our lead instructor, but their boss, his boss, and the regional director wanting answers on why we were absolutely clueless of how to run a NE problem in general. I look back at it, and our class started off with poor dynamic. We never felt we could ask a question at first, and if we did we more than likely got a response that we did not understand which in return made us feel a lot like how you are feeling. We blamed our instructor outside of class many times. We felt like our education was being cut short and it was just a really poor feeling for many of us. I started to speak to the instructor after class and in my free time on how much we all are trying to grasp the material. Everyone was working as hard as they could, TOGETHER. After I had a few heart to hearts with the instructor and he saw our passion and team work, and tears he really opened up. Our class bonded and shook off going into radar. We started just relaxing more, grilling on the weekends and enjoying the moment. We built a culture in and outside the class room that promoted success, and I believe thats what you have to do for your classmates and your instructor. If its negative vibes, you have to make them positive for everyone. At the end of the day, I'm sure the instructor does want you all to succeed.
 

Foppery&Whim

Active Member
Messages
86
The instructors at the academy want you to succeed and hate for anybody to fail. They are giving 100% and expect the students to return that same level of effort.
It's tough for anybody going into the academy to pass, let alone certify at a facility. Like it or not, you are there to learn the material in classroom, apply the knowledge in the simulations, take feedback and improve. I literally broke down three times because of a lead instructor and situations that happened during the academy and I still passed while there were others in my class that I thought were better than me but failed during the evaluations. Like others have said, terminal/enroute foundational training is designed to be mentally tough because the FAA needs to know if you have the ability to do the job and execute your plan.

Also, before you file a complaint, did you even talk to the instructor about the situation and understand their perspective? You may be a student, but you are also an adult and you should communicate to resolve the issues directly. There will be day when things will not go your way during training at the academy or at your facility, the question is how are you going to deal with it?
 

ClearanceClarence

Legendary Member
Messages
1,320
What exactly is he saying that you believe rises to the level of “abuse?” You need to understand there’s a culture in this field where all trainees are (to a degree) belittled, teased, and made to feel like shit. Whether that’s right or wrong, it is normal. At the end of the day, this is a job where a wrong move could potentially kill a lot of people, instructors/trainers aren’t there to hold your hand and baby you through the process, they’re there to push you to be the best that you can be.

Now if what this guy is doing goes beyond training and he’s just throwing out personal insults left and right, that’s a different story. But if someone makes a mistake and he’s just calling them out in front of everyone, that’s completely normal. Need more details about what’s actually happening.

PS: females receiving different/preferential treatment is also very common.
 
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FightingIrish2012

Forum Sage
Messages
1,287
Hello pointsixtyfive.

Not a first-timer here, but I have created this account to preserve my anonymity for what are hopefully obvious reasons.

I am currently attending classes at MMAC. As one might expect, the material has gotten substantially more difficult with each passing week. While I've encountered some difficulties in my studies, I personally have not struggled with any of the material for a prolonged period, however, I am noticing that some of my classmates are, and I don't think it's for reasons related to study habits or talent. One classmate of mine is very studious, but they seem to leave their capabilities at the classroom door. I don't think it's a coincidence that our lead seems to be very particularly, loudly, and downright obnoxiously critical of them, almost as if to publicly shame them. Unsurprisingly, I have watched this individual's morale deteriorate over the weeks. No doubt they are having a tough time with the material, but the repeated abuse they endure in the classroom has to be deterring their ability to effectively learn and practice while on campus.

I have received a somewhat similar, albeit less severe and less frequent treatment from our lead, and for whatever reason, it's only incentivized me to understand the material. I can even see the potential value in "simulating" the pressure of the evaluations in the classroom environment, however, I also feel like the classroom and the lab are places for learning primarily, and our instructor's inability to provide a more dynamic style of instruction is obviously adversely affecting some students' ability to do so. I can handle the abuse, and might even appreciate it at times, but it's clear to me that our lead doesn't have any desire to accommodate learning styles that might suffer under his current methods.

I know our lead can flip the switch. He does so for a female student, which I don't think is a coincidence. I just get the sense, generally, that he'd rather be snide and condescending than informative, especially should you have any sort of clarifying question. Long story short, I am think of filing a complaint. I am not sure how often this sort of thing happen at MMAC, or what sort of recourse I can expect through a formal complaint process. I think some of my classmates would agree with my assessment and cooperate, however, I'd like to know if anyone has had any experience doing such a thing and could clarify. My obvious fear is that something will be said to our instructor, but that nothing beyond that will happen, and that may come with some sort of retaliation.

Feel free to PM your responses. Any input would be appreciated.
You seem like trouble.......
 

liter a cola

Forum Sage
FAA
Messages
476
Facility
Command Center
I didn't want to chime in but here I am. I have to agree with what pretty much everyone else said. Additionally your complaint wouldn't do much but be a how to manual of how to wash out of the academy. Those instructors are closer to each other than they are to you. You are on probation, you have zero protection and the agency doesn't need a reason to terminate you. Just suck it up and move on.
 

ClearanceClarence

Legendary Member
Messages
1,320
Outside of outright physical abuse, discriminatory behavior, or threats, they are basically within their right to teach how they want. Does that make them a bad instructor? Maybe, maybe not. I would guess their pass rates are just as good as the other instructors.
Also, unless things have changed since I was there, every student fills out and end-of-course review where you can leave feedback on the program and your instructors. Allegedly they’re taken pretty seriously. That would be a much more effective course of action if you’re displeased with an instructor vs. marching into the FAA management office claiming a contract instructor is “abusing” his class.
 

Mr. Miner

Trusted Contributor
Messages
231
I agree with everything everyone else has said so far, and I’ll add in an extra .02 that will help you down the road in your career: Lookout for yourself first, and do what’s best for you and only you.

I definitely understand the feeling of camaraderie you get going through basics and the academy together, but at the end of the day, you are the only one that 100% has your best interests in mind. Of course you want everyone in your class to pass so that your placement list has the maximum number of slots. But unless the instructor giving another student a hard time is directly effecting you, there are almost no benefits to sticking out your neck for someone else. Let them fight their own battles, and you worry about what should be your only focus: passing.
 
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Messages
5
What exactly is he saying that you believe rises to the level of “abuse?” You need to understand there’s a culture in this field where all trainees are (to a degree) belittled, teased, and made to feel like shit. Whether that’s right or wrong, it is normal. At the end of the day, this is a job where a wrong move could potentially kill a lot of people, instructors/trainers aren’t there to hold your hand and baby you through the process, they’re there to push you to be the best that you can be.

Now if what this guy is doing goes beyond training and he’s just throwing out personal insults left and right, that’s a different story. But if someone makes a mistake and he’s just calling them out in front of everyone, that’s completely normal. Need more details about what’s actually happening.

PS: females receiving different/preferential treatment is also very common.
There are no direct insults. It's just repeatedly snide, rhetorical questions, basically implying that the student should already know how to do everything that they seem to be struggling with. What's bothersome is how persistent it is, how obnoxious he is about it (volume and tone wise), and how obviously poorly the student is responding to it. I know others in the class have expressed a certain level of discomfort with how this particular student seems to be getting treated, and we have even had students from other classes take note of our lead's particularly aggressive methods. I figured you I'd get a whole lot of "tough titty" from y'all, and that's fine, but I have to think this goes a bit beyond teasing.

I for certain have had my own bouts with humility as a result of this program, and I'd like to think that I have responded well. That said, not everyone learns the same, and for that reason I can't really jive with the "my way or the highway" bs, even if that is ultimately what this comes down to. Dynamic instruction is necessary at times. If my classmate is going to fall apart on eval day, then let it come to that rather than constantly tearing into him when he is visibly distraught.

All the same, I appreciate everyone's input.
 

ClearanceClarence

Legendary Member
Messages
1,320
There are no direct insults. It's just repeatedly snide, rhetorical questions, basically implying that the student should already know how to do everything that they seem to be struggling with. What's bothersome is how persistent it is, how obnoxious he is about it (volume and tone wise), and how obviously poorly the student is responding to it. I know others in the class have expressed a certain level of discomfort with how this particular student seems to be getting treated, and we have even had students from other classes take note of our lead's particularly aggressive methods. I figured you I'd get a whole lot of "tough titty" from y'all, and that's fine, but I have to think this goes a bit beyond teasing.

I for certain have had my own bouts with humility as a result of this program, and I'd like to think that I have responded well. That said, not everyone learns the same, and for that reason I can't really jive with the "my way or the highway" bs, even if that is ultimately what this comes down to. Dynamic instruction is necessary at times. If my classmate is going to fall apart on eval day, then let it come to that rather than constantly tearing into him when he is visibly distraught.

All the same, I appreciate everyone's input.
It now seems pretty clear you seem to have confused this instructors teaching style/personality with “abuse” - a term you used several times above. Particularly in the Federal government, filing a complaint because you don’t like someone, or you find them rude, is not an option. If the instructor has not discriminated against anyone based on race, gender, religion, age, etc., and if he has not sexually harassed or physically harmed anyone, then there are zero grounds for filing a complaint with the FAA. The agency will dismiss your concerns, and as others shared above, it will likely only come back to harm you and your class down the road. It may suck, but mean people are a part of this job, and I guarantee you, it only gets worse when you start training at an actual facility.
 
Messages
2
Hello pointsixtyfive.

Not a first-timer here, but I have created this account to preserve my anonymity for what are hopefully obvious reasons.

I am currently attending classes at MMAC. As one might expect, the material has gotten substantially more difficult with each passing week. While I've encountered some difficulties in my studies, I personally have not struggled with any of the material for a prolonged period, however, I am noticing that some of my classmates are, and I don't think it's for reasons related to study habits or talent. One classmate of mine is very studious, but they seem to leave their capabilities at the classroom door. I don't think it's a coincidence that our lead seems to be very particularly, loudly, and downright obnoxiously critical of them, almost as if to publicly shame them. Unsurprisingly, I have watched this individual's morale deteriorate over the weeks. No doubt they are having a tough time with the material, but the repeated abuse they endure in the classroom has to be deterring their ability to effectively learn and practice while on campus.

I have received a somewhat similar, albeit less severe and less frequent treatment from our lead, and for whatever reason, it's only incentivized me to understand the material. I can even see the potential value in "simulating" the pressure of the evaluations in the classroom environment, however, I also feel like the classroom and the lab are places for learning primarily, and our instructor's inability to provide a more dynamic style of instruction is obviously adversely affecting some students' ability to do so. I can handle the abuse, and might even appreciate it at times, but it's clear to me that our lead doesn't have any desire to accommodate learning styles that might suffer under his current methods.

I know our lead can flip the switch. He does so for a female student, which I don't think is a coincidence. I just get the sense, generally, that he'd rather be snide and condescending than informative, especially should you have any sort of clarifying question. Long story short, I am thinking of filing a complaint. I am not sure how often this sort of thing happens at MMAC, or what sort of recourse I can expect through a formal complaint process. I think some of my classmates would agree with my assessment and cooperate, however, I'd like to know if anyone has had any experience doing such a thing and could clarify. My obvious fear is that something will be said to our instructor, but that nothing beyond that will happen, and that may come with some sort of retaliation.

Feel free to PM your responses. Any input would be appreciated.
Dude, don’t do it
 

Peter Gibbons

Legendary Member
Messages
2,066
First off worry about number one.

Secondly, making complaints at the academy of instructors is a good way to make your own life much harder. Not smart.

Hell even when you get out in the real world....not a good idea to complain about your training team when you are still wet behind the ears. Got a few years in, been thru the song and dance a couple times, training at facility number 3 or whatever? Okay cool now I think you are in a position to have a say. Certainly not now when you don't know what's required or normal for training in this job, and what's out of line.

When you are job jeopardy with zero union protection and still in probationary status is not the time to be making demands of the FAA. I think you'd be playing with fire for little or no gain by raising your voice about this.
 

ClearanceClarence

Legendary Member
Messages
1,320
Very few trainers in the field will adjust their teaching method based on how the trainee learns. As stated above none of this is abuse and likely none of it will stop once you graduate the Academy.
Even putting ATC aside, the real world beyond college or high school simply doesn’t work this way. The idea that you can file a formal complaint against someone who’s teaching you because you think they’re mean and you don’t approve of their style is absurd.

I have a tough OJTI who calls me a fucking idiot along with other colorful names pretty regularly. Never once have I thought about reporting him though. I just have a tough skin, learn from my mistakes, and try and impress him the next day. Haven’t washed out yet so I guess it’s working.
 

DADDYSbabyBIRD

Active Member
Messages
73
The academy is not long enough to hold trainees hands and to try to learn everyone's different learning techniques and to apply them differently to everyone. Some trainers at the facilities will try to and some won't, but no one will care much that an OTJI keeps telling you how you're wrong In a loud and demeaning tone. If you're wrong, listen, learn, fix it, succeed.

Or go file a complain and let us know how that goes.
 
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