I had a great time instructing the J2EE/JBoss for Java Developers course at the TechEngage Spring 2005 session at the North Carolina State University campus. TechEngage is a community-service organization which provides a full week of inexpensive ($145) training for displaced IS/IT workers (to attend the courses you must be un/underemployed). The organizers were most gracious and the attendees were extremely motivated (some of the most motivated folks I've seen).
As an instructor, I was allowed to attend some of the side sessions such as the Networking Skills and Communication Skills classes. Who knew that comparing a Linux distribution's install process to copulating with an elephant might not be appropriate? Just kidding. Actually I learned about some of my weird quirks that I engage in during a presentation. For instance, I tend to be very reverent and pious to the technologies I present -- actually I tend to just appear that way as I hold my hands together at my waist. There are other things I do. That being said, many of the things I do without realizing it are actually techniques taught in the course. Of course there are the unconventional things I do. It is rumored that I stand on furniture to make certain points.
In the networking skills class, I learned a lot about our local area that I was unaware of. Furthermore, I was able to understand some of the "networking skills" that I've only recently stumbled onto in more formal terms. Like most technical workers, I usually emphasize technical skills first. However, in recent years I've started working on developing "soft skills". Yet, I've focused more on "presentations" than on any thoughtful networking. Not that I haven't networked, but I've just not done so with any purpose. I'll still probably do a lot of purposeless networking (I just don't see the world in functional enough terms to be a real "networker") but I plan to apply more thought other types as well.
I think that this event and these types of events are very important and hope to see more of them in the future. Its entirely non-profit and the instructors volunteer their time. I'd also like to thank my employer, JBoss for donating the materials and allowing me the time to participate in this worthy event (no small thing since its normally a $3000/seat course). I'd also like to applaud all of the volunteers and organizers who made it happen.