The day after an IE always has a Sunday feeling about it and I enjoy hiding away from the world in my office catching up on e-mails. Last month whilst most of Koh Tao’s newly certified OWSI’s where either nursing a well-earned hangover or merely enjoying the first day of the rest of their lives as PADI Instructors, one of my IDC candidates came by to see me.
A switched on guy, he’d been particularly attentive to detail with an appetite for complete mastery of anything scuba diving. He had faired particularly well on the Instructor Examination. Coupled with his refreshing approach to his Instructor level scuba diving education he had been a pleasure to teach.
He thanked me for my guidance and mentorship during his IDC, describing his overall experience as one of his most memorable. Positive feedback is always nice. It reminds me of why I’m an educator in the first place.
As is his inquisitive nature and just as our conversation was ending the expected question materialised, or more accurately a request for some advice.
‘It feels great to become a PADI OWSI and I can’t wait to start teaching. Can you give me your top tips for when I start teaching my first courses?’
Our conversation lasted a while longer and afterwards I continued with my e-mails before wrapping up for the day and packing my laptop away. A light rainstorm started so I sat down again, waiting until it stopped.
Thinking about our conversation a few hours earlier, and staring at a ‘post it’ note that simply said ‘write new Pro blog’ I took my phone out and started making some notes.
So what are my top-tips for new PADI Instructors teaching their first diving courses?
Always be prepared
Review the course standards and procedures in your PADI Instructor manual as well as the PADI media and educational materials prior to teaching courses you haven’t taught before.
Familiarise yourself with the student diver manual, knowledge reviews, quizzes and exams so you will be comfortable answering student questions or elaborating on the educational material.
Sit in with your students and watch the videos. Don’t be afraid to interject and expand on any critical information they present.
Understand the logistics and standard operating procedures of the dive centre you are teaching at. Make sure you are up to speed and fully briefed up on important organisational parts of your training course.
How to schedule your swimming pool sessions, book a classroom or making certain you have the correct number of spaces on the boat list all require meticulous planning.
Remember the number one rule in this game is always looking good by being well prepared!
It’s natural to feel nervous as a new Instructor when teaching for the first time. Like anything you do that is new to you, confidence comes with time and experience. What you must remember is you know more than your student divers and you certainly have much more diving experience. They are looking to you for guidance and instruction. Never forget that.
Be flexible and adaptable
Is there an industry in the world that requires as much flexibility from its employees than the scuba diving industry? It could be due to unexpected bad weather, or an unforeseen influx of student divers, the cultural considerations of working with a multinational clientele or the varying learning styles, strengths and weaknesses of your student divers.
In an equipment intensive industry – everything from regulators to boat engines, swimming pools to compressors, there is plenty that can go wrong, and many variables that can upset even the best laid plans of the most organised dive professional.
The role of a PADI scuba diving instructor is one that requires both a flexible and adaptable approach to your work. It’s worth bearing that in mind as you embark on this new exciting journey. Expect the unexpected and deal with it with a smile on your face.
Make it fun, entertaining and sociable.
Diving is all about Fun! And it’s our job, as dive instructors to entertain, show our students a good time and provide memorable underwater experiences. Build relationships; get to know your students, their interests, their ambitions, their goals. Spend time socialising with them after the dive. Connect on social media, take some cool images and tag them. Most importantly keep in touch.
Not only are these students part of your scuba diving network and a great source of positive ‘word of mouth’ leads, many end up becoming lifelong friends. Live the lifestyle you are selling.
Be an advocate for marine conservation.
Take time to educate your student divers about our beautiful ocean and its wonderful marine life. You are in a unique position as one of a small number of individuals worldwide that can influence and educate people in this way.
As a PADI Instructor you are an Ambassador for the world’s oceans and must ensure your students understand their plight and the human impact on these delicate ecosystems. You can change attitudes. Lead by example and practice what you preach.
Never forget what it felt like to breathe underwater for the first time.
After all it was because of this moment that you became addicted to scuba diving and the reason you are reading this blog! Remember your students are also going through that amazing experience and enjoying that transformation moment. Allow them to savour it. Just like you did!
Value your education as well as that of your student divers. Always ensure they are comfortable and assist them to become more confident and competent scuba divers by offering good quality continuing education training courses.
In order to achieve this invest in your own Instructor level education and become a more knowledgeable, skilled and rounded educator. Offer your divers more variety whilst you enjoy a more varied working life!
Patience is a great attribute for a scuba diving instructor to have. Possessing a balance between patience and persuasive encouragement will be the key to continued success. Most people are at the very least apprehensive when breathing on scuba for the first time and some are absolutely terrified!
Approach these situations with calmness and empathy. It’s these nervous students, who initially don’t meet some performance requirements that will provide you with your most rewarding moments as a dive educator as you see faces of fear turn to joy.
PADI standards are there for a reason. They don’t make your life more difficult; on the contrary, they make your life easier, protect you, and ultimately produce better divers. The training courses you are certified to teach have been developed over many years, by experts in several fields with the goal of providing the best possible educationally valid training courses for scuba divers.
At the same time they are designed to comply with established standards and are legally acceptable within the International community.
Team teach with more experienced Instructors and gain valuable hands-on experience. Pick up useful tips and techniques. Teach with a variety of Instructors and sample different styles, methods of delivery and approaches to teaching scuba divers. Team teaching enables you to focus 100% on your teaching skills and techniques whilst not needing to worry as much about the organisational side of the course
And finally……watch your attitude. It’s the first thing people notice about you.
As you embark on the next exciting step on your journey as a PADI Instructor always remember, be professional. Provide value. Never have a bad day. Take control of who you are and what you do; you’ve just worked extremely hard to become a scuba diving Instructor but this is merely the end of the beginning. The hard work has only just begun.
You’ve just had a thoroughly enjoyable and successful IDC and IE with a great PADI Course Director and you were also lucky enough to have great mentors throughout your Divemaster course but neither means you will make an excellent Instructor. Only you can achieve that. Attitude is everything.
And most importantly enjoy it.
You never know where your diving career will take you!
Award Winning PADI Course Director – 463599