Friday, February 12, 2010

Becoming a Cisco Trainer

Twelve years after I took a job with a Cisco training company, I have finally achieved my goal of becoming a Certified Cisco Systems Instructor (CCSI).  In 1998, I accepted a job with Chesapeake Computer Consultants, Inc (later renamed Mentor Technologies).  I was hired as a consultant, and I eventually hoped to teach, but it didn’t work out and I quickly forgot about becoming an instructor.
Fast forward about ten years… I earned my CCDE, and while I am happily employed, I’m always looking for new and interesting challenges.  I occasionally take on some extra-curricular consulting work (contact me if you’re interested!).  I was approached by CCBOOTCAMP, an authorized Cisco Learning Solutions Provider (CLSP) about teaching their CCDE Advanced Lab (Practical) Boot Camp.  This seemed like the ideal opportunity to get into teaching, so I accepted the offer.  This is a part time endeavor, so there’s no need for me to leave my current employer, which makes this the perfect fit for me.  A few weeks ago I sat for the two-day CCSI exam, and a few days ago I received an email from Cisco with the news that I am CCSI #33328.  My first course is scheduled for March 1st, and I am really looking forward to it.  Even though I am the instructor, I am sure I will learn quite a bit from the experience.
Carole Warner Reece of Chesapeake NetCraftsmen wrote a great blog entry about the history of the CCSI program.  It can be found at
http://www.netcraftsmen.net/resources/technical-articles/132-ccsi-history-and-numbers-.html
At the risk of repeating her comments, I’ll briefly mention my experience.  The CCSI certification process is called the Instructor Certification Program (ICP).  On Day 1 of my ICP, I completed a Cisco configuration lab.  I would say it was a CCNA-level lab.  On Day 2, I presented a module from the ICND2 course (I chose WAN Technologies).  Two other candidates also presented modules of their choosing.  Next, I was asked to present a module of the ICP Proctor’s choosing.  He chose OSPF, and I presented it.
That was the entire process.  I received useful feedback on presentation skills from both the proctor and my fellow candidates.  I enjoy presenting, but I don’t get many opportunities to practice in my current role.  Of course, It is unlikely that I’ll get a lot of presentation practice during the CCDE Lab Boot Camp either.  My current view is that the course must be based on interactive discussions for the students to get the most out of the material.  If anyone has thoughts on how best to teach network design, I’d love to hear them in the comments or via email.
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