Let us discuss the topic - what it takes to be a good instructor. I think this is a valid point to talk about. It does not matter if you are a fresh instructor who just finished the training, or if you are in the industry for over a decade already. It is not easy to be a good instructor, that is a fact. Whoever tells you differently is wrong. So why is it not easy to be a good instructor?
I put on the first place the ability to observe and identify problems. Things that are not quite right. You have to think in matters of ‘what if…’. What if this situation persists, what are the possible consequences? If your conclusion is that the consequences are potentially hazardous, you have to react, you have to find a valid and reasonable solution to that problem.
As a second point, it is the knowledge and skills required to be able to identify and solve any problem in a satisfactory manner. Remember, when you are teaching someone, make sure that person understands why certain things are done the way they are done. Because that makes sure the person will not repeat the problem. Knowledge and skills, work on that, pay attention to new equipment, new techniques, changes in standards. Look how other instructors are doing things, ask yourself if that method is better than the way you teach; if not – why not? – if yes – why yes? Ask yourself these questions. It’s important.
Further, put yourself in the position of your student diver. We all have passed plenty of courses ourselves, plenty of training we have endured. During all those courses, what kind of instruction did we value most? The thorough and detailed instruction, where everything was explained with reason and logic, or the quick ‘do-as-I-say’ style where you were rushed through just to finish as soon as possible? Of course you would prefer the first. So now that you are in the instructor position, offer you student exactly that. Exactly the way you would like to be taught. Nothing more nothing less!
The marine life. Know the marine ecosystem you are diving in. Like a good chef has to know the ingredients of his meal, a dive instructor has to know the marine life of the dive sites diving and teaching in. Ok, maybe that’s a bad comparison, please don’t eat the fish from your dive site. The beauty of the marine life is why people want to dive in the first place. So get a book about the fish and other marine life of the area, look up to various website as well, there is so much material out there, don’t be lazy, get to know your waterworld.
Speak clearly and understandably. Make sure you have your students attention, there is no point in speaking if the other person is not able to comprehend what is spoken. With the way you speak to your students you can calm them and relax them, or you can stress them – if your instruction is, for example, contradictory or not clear.
Stay fit. You don’t have to be an Olympian, nor a super athlete. But be fit, go for runs, swimming, exercise a bit. It’s good for you in general, and it’s also good for your students. It increases your students confidence if they are trained by a fit instructor.
It helps a lot if you love what you do. It really does. Things appear to be so much more natural this way.
Have patience. Try different ways of how to do a certain skill, be flexible with this. Important is that the student can do the skill satisfactorily, not necessarily ‘your way’ of doing it.
Value yourself. As I said, being a good instructor is not easy, so there is a great value if the instruction is done properly. Make sure you get paid appropriately. Make sure your employer understands the value you are bringing to the dive operation.
You see most of these goes back to your attitude. Give your best and the best will come to you. As a final word – buoyancy. You can’t teach buoyancy enough. Make sure your divers are comfortable and relaxed to start with, don’t let them dive overweighted, invest the time to get their trim right. Get their breathing right. If their breathing is wrong, their buoyancy is wrong, any progress from there is difficult.
Safe and happy diving everyone 🙂