Taking the applied structural drying (ASD) course was a wonderful experience for me. I had the privilege of having Brian Brainerd with Restoration Academy, LLC as my instructor. This was one of the last classes I needed for my Masters and to be eligible to be an instructor.  

While taking this class, I looked at it through two perspectives. The first was as a technician. The class was fairly large, with people from across the U.S. There were people with years of experience, some fairly new and a few getting training to start their own business. It was a great opportunity not only to learn about different techniques and situations, but also to apply them. It was great to see everyone using drying strategies they have learned with different materials.  

I noticed many of the students had never heard of deep extraction or realized they were doing it wrong. Some had no idea you could save hardwood floors or drywall. They were just used to ripping all wet materials out. The instructor, Brian, allowed us to start the drying process using our own techniques. Some people tried putting as much equipment as the breaker would hold, which really warmed the room up. Others were a little more timid and just watched. After the first day, we checked equipment and readings. That’s when the light bulbs started switching on in everyone’s minds. Attendees began to understand that the drying process isn’t about just seeing how much equipment you can install, but also looking at different variables to accelerate the drying process.  

I also took note of the instructing side of the class. I noticed how there was a big difference in knowledge across attendees. I could tell by the looks of some people’s faces that they were a little lost or didn’t completely understand, but were embarrassed to ask questions, while others always had something to say. I could tell some could understand simply by reading the manual while others didn’t quite grasp the concepts until they were demonstrated, suggesting they were more hands-on learners.  

Observing all the students during the course helped me develop my instructing technique. I am able to spot students who are confused but aren’t asking questions in fear of holding up the class or being judged. Usually when this happens, I’ll ask the class if there are any questions. If no questions, I will simply state I see some confused faces without pointing anyone out, then try to explain it a different way or use a visual example. I always tell everyone I don’t want to move on unless everyone understands.  

My wife, more than anyone, knows I have all the patience in the world and constantly praises me for that. One thing I always do in my mind is put myself in each of my students’ shoes. Most of the time I have been there before. I understand the struggle they are going through. I remember taking my first IICRC-approved class. The first WRT class I took was with Barry Costa. I remember being in his class and I never would have thought in my wildest dreams that someday I would be an instructor.  

In one of my classes, I had a student who was unable to read. He understood everything I was teaching him. When it came down to taking the exam, he was unable to read the questions and answers, which brings me back to putting myself in someone else’s shoes. I realize we all are not given the same opportunities growing up. My father only completed kindergarten as a child before he had to work the fields to help his mom provide for the rest of his family. So he never had the opportunity to learn how to read. I did what I would hope someone would do for my father and I read each question with every possible answer to the student. I believe everyone should have a chance to better their lives no matter what obstacles they may face.  

I recommend everyone who looks to have a future in the restoration take the ASD course and experience the flood house, especially if you are a hands-on learner. Not only will you learn new drying techniques, and make yourself and your business more efficient. You will also meet an array of extraordinary people with different talents and experiences. It’s an opportunity and experience you will never forget.