Thursday, March 3, 2011

Characteristics of a Good Instructor

Safety of the Student
Global Awareness

Safety of the Student
Situational Awareness

Safety of the Student
Command of Knowledge

Safety of the Student
Exemplary water skills

Safety of the Student
Leader by Example

Safety of the Student
Love of Water

Safety of the Student
Inspirational Teacher

So what does all this mean?  #1 is always the safety of the student.  It goes without saying that this is paramount.  At the beginnning, in the middle of and at the end of training.  How do you ensure student safety?  Global awareness, the ability to see the whole picture, knowing what is going on and where it is happening.  This allows the instructor to have "eyes in the back of his head" so to speak.  While thinking globally the instructor must have situational awareness.  This is the ability to discern what is happening right now with intuiative knowledge of cause and effect.  Instant realization of what might or will happen in a given set of circumstances.

Command of the knowledge.  How can you teach someone something you don't know?  Students smell this like a shark smells blood.  If you don't know it, you can bet you will be asked about it.  A professional will take it upon himself to acquire the knowledge.  But it takes more than getting the information.  You have to understand it AND be able to teach it.  This is two totally seperate actions and abilities.

Exemplary water skills.  This is demonstrated to the students with your every movement.  When they see you in the water, they are seeing demonstration quality skills done without apparent thought or discomfort.  They see how it should be done!  You are Leading by Example.  You not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.  You are able to perform every skill you ask for, demonstration quality.  You as the instructor demonstrate this by maintaining a level of fitness that allows you to do all the endurance tasks, whenever.  Your words of conservation and safety are followed by the same actions, with and without students.  Someone is always watching.

Love of water.  Simply seen by your ease and comfort in the water environment.  Not only are you one with the water, but you use it to your advantage.  This cannot be faked.  It is readily apparent if you have it or if you don't.  When you love the water you do not fight it or struggle.  Your movement and actions are smooth, unhurried, comfortable.  You will have a palpable calm when in it.  It will be noticed.

Inspirational Teacher.  Lofty words certainly.  Just look back at what and who drove you or inspired you to be where you are at, in this very moment.  This is inspiration.  Transferring your love of the water, your knowledge of scuba diving, is the trick.  Be that guy, you know, the one that makes you try harder.  The guy who somehow encourages you to do more, to research, to learn, to teach.

Big talk to read here, I know.  I myself am constantly striving for all of these characteristics.  I want to be that guy who you trust with your most loved ones.  I want to be that guy who is always the buddy you can count on under water.  I want to be like the instructors who taught me.  I want to take the best and make it my own.  I want to have a legacy of safety. 

I want you to be that guy as well.  I want you to be the guy, the instructor who teaches me how to dive. better.  I want you to be that memorable instructor who first taught me the brand new diver how to dive, the right way, the safe way.  I am unable to forget you, because you are the best diver I ever saw!


Arbrey said...

My God, what a challenge.

jmfd said...

Arbrey you are so right it's going to hard to do that but I know we can do it.

Gary Peacock said...

I think the title to your post should be " characteristics of a good DIVE professional" I know you wrote it for the Instructor Candidates but I think it is relivant to all dive professionals, including the Divemaster Candidiates. I love the way you started your post, Ensure Saftey! That thought is at the front of the mind of every dive professional who is responsibile for others underwater. I would like to share a couple of additional traits or chacteristics which I think are important for any Dive professional. the first is PATIENCE. Nothing puts the students at ease like a dive professional who displays patience. Your patience and encouragement will make the difference with those students who struggle with certain parts of their training. the second trait is the ability to IMPROVISE, ADAPT and OVERCOME! All diving activites are fluid in more ways than one. You have to able to change and adapt your plans for the activity to overcome the issues and obstaciles that face all students and participants of diving activites.

I hope all of the Divemaster candidiates look in on your post. It is great information for them as well.