Have to Teach a Class? Teach it the U S Marine Corps Way


Corporals Leadership Course: Setting the Standard Week 1: History and Tradition
CherryPoint / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Learning is a Marine tradition since 1775. Give your presentation the U. S. Marine way.

After earning the title of Marine the instruction doesn’t stop. As a Marine Sergeant I taught classes on military subjects. I attended a one month school and learned the Marine Corps way. An effective way to teach. Military goals and lives depend on proper instruction. 

A Plan

Teach a class the Marine Corps way. Follow a lesson plan. First is the attention getter. A Marine, two Sailors and a parrot walk into a bar…… A joke gets your classes’ attention. The best joke is relevant to the topic. A favorite attention getter of mine requires an assistant. A class on “how to handle disruptions in class” could be interrupted by your assistant bursting into class. He will verbally assault you, accusing you of having an affair with his wife or owing him money. If not right for your class, use a milder attention getter. Have your assistant start doing repair work to the room with the class in session, or looking for his hammer or ladder. Show how to handle the disruption. If you didn’t introduce yourself at the beginning of the class you can do it now with full attention.


Actors ask,”What’s my motivation?” To teach is an art. Motivation is the reason you teach and the students should know the need to learn.  Don’t just stand and lecture. Motivate the class. It’s true that you can lead a horse to water but can’t make him drink. Learn what motivates the horse. Show the purpose for the horse to drink the water.

Five Sense Instruction

Students learn differently. Use the five senses in your instructions. Training aids can allow the class to touch the object of the lesson. Charts and blackboard stimulate visually. Repeat the lesson clearly with enough volume. Students learn by hearing.

Know Your Topic

The good instructor gets the students involved in the class. Interact with them when possible. Know the topic, it will keep you from getting nervous. Show confidence. A class can sense insecurities.


Control of mannerisms is more important and more difficult than many realize. “The Dying Warrior” will stand and lecture, never move and exhaust everyone. “The Fig Leaf” stands with hands together in front the class. You’ve seen “The Walkie Talkie” racing to one side of the stage then back, never standing still. “The Chained Elephant” shifts weight from one foot to the other. The teacher with his hands in his pockets is “The Change Counter,” jingling change every five minutes. Always use a pointer to point to an object. If not available use a pen. Never point with your finger. Use the pointer, then holster it. “The Swordsman” duels with it the entire class.  Lastly leave waving and gesturing your hands to “The TV commercial.” Your period of instruction is longer than a commercial.  Your students can’t tolerate the distraction. It’s hard to keep your hands and arms by your side.  Use hand gestures sparingly. Don’t distract your own class. Be forceful by using facial expressions  and voice inflection. Keep eye contact.


Review everything you went over briefly. Questions are held until the end of the instruction. During the Question and answer period acknowledge the one with the question. You should always repeat the question preceded by the words, “the question was.”


End instruction  with a critique or summary. Questions will show what needs more focus. Repetition is a good teacher. The Marine Corps has used it with great result since 1775.

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