U.S. Marine Recruiters Tackle New Adversary - Online Classrooms

27 Oct 2020 | Cpl. Matthew Navarra 9th Marine Corps District

Each year as school begins, the race to get into classrooms and lunchrooms starts. Marine recruiters face a diverse set of challenges such as schools that are not military friendly, schedule conflicts and competition with the sister services. Marines always face those challenges head-on and accomplish the mission. This year is different though, one of the most difficult challenges presented itself to Marine recruiters across the nation. How do you perform a class talk when the students themselves aren’t physically in school?

Staff Sergeant Zachary Powers, staff-noncommissioned officer-in-charge of Recruiting Substation New Castle, Recruiting Station Indianapolis, and Staff Sgt. Levi Lanning, a recruiter also from RSS New Castle, decided to solve this problem. Powers and Lanning began researching and talking with the various schools within their area of responsibility to find out how to make virtual class talks a reality.

“We came up with the idea by brainstorming within the RSS and reaching out to the schools to see what could be done to get us in front of the students,” said Lanning “I believe it’s best to get a group’s opinion, bounce the ideas off the teachers and see if they can coordinate with your ideas as well for maximum efficiency.”

The process wasn’t simple, there are a lot of potential pitfalls where a virtual class talk can be stopped in its tracks. The first and most important thing that the Marines explained was the importance of communication between themselves and the schools participating. Besides the planning process taking a lot of coordination, there is also a risk of technical difficulties.

 “...it’s best to get a group’s opinion, bounce the ideas off the teachers and see if they can coordinate with your ideas as well for maximum efficiency.” Staff Sgt. Levi Lanning, RSS New Castle recruiter

“We reached out about a month prior and the teacher coordinated with another teacher in order to facilitate the class talk via google classroom,” said Powers. “We actually ended up having multiple classes on at once.”

Their effort was fairly successful with both teachers and students being receptive to the talks. While the results were not as fruitful as a traditional class talk, both Powers and Lanning made the most out of their time in front of the students.

Engaging the students and keeping them interested was harder than normal, explained Powers. Considering the circumstances there was good participation and two students even requested more information, one specifically asking about the $180,000 Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Scholarship.

The importance of making the presentation personalized and interactive was evident. Online classroom settings make it more difficult to convey emotion and energy, which makes it even more important to tailor the presentation to the audience. RSS New Castle plans to schedule more class talks and continue to refine the strategy of engaging with students in the online classroom.

“Digital class talks are the best option we have right now,” said Lanning. “Of course, being in person is better but due to the tight restrictions the schools are maintaining on students and visitors, this is the next best thing.”