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Going pro - learning to teach diving

Ernst timing me for Deep Diver certification exercise

Last night, Grant and I finished my paperwork for my Divemaster application. I finished the requirements on the 20th and it should be processed when PADI opens for business again on the 3rd of January. My plan is to continue working slowly on my Instructor Development Course while doing more specialties and becoming a Emergency First Responder instructor. (My current certifications.)

As I make the transition into professional diving and more specifically, learning to teach diving, I continue to be impressed by the quality of the resources available to dive instructors and the depth and the quality of the methods.

The Pavilion Dive Centre where Ernst works is an excellent example of the PADI dive instruction ethics and methods. Everyone who works in the dive shop is super-friendly, happy and really helpful. There is a strong sense of teamwork and professionalism. Safety procedures are strictly adhered to but everything is kept fun and lighthearted.

There is a great deal of focus on training and teaching quality – every time I support the instructors as a Divemaster trainee, I’m impressed by how the instructors are able to adapt the course to the student’s style of learning and even after a super-long day, they never let the students see stress or unhappiness. As important, if not more important than the actual skills is to make people feel confident and comfortable and this requires much more than just knowing the content – it requires compassion, patience and the ability to focus on the student.

It may not seem like it, but I’m a very shy person. When I first helped Ernst teach a class of eight kids, it pushed me out of my comfort zone, but by the end of it, the reward of watching the kids get so excited and learning so quickly was exhilarating. I really want to meet those kids again and look forward to teaching more kids.

This week, as part of my training, I had to recruit for and conduct a Discover Scuba Diving course (DSD). A DSD is a very short course that teaches a non-diver the basics of Scuba diving and gets them into the water quickly to experience what it is like to breathe underwater through a Scuba unit and swim around a bit.

The recruiting process reminded me of trying to pick up dates at a nightclub. I wandered around the pool asking people if they wanted to have a free scuba lesson. After a few rejections, I found a 15-year-old boy who wanted to try. I had him and his father fill out the necessary forms. After a quick briefing of the basic theory and some skills, I had the kid in the water. There was a photographer taking pictures as the kid posed for the pictures and clearly enjoyed the quick dive as we swam around the bottom of the large pool at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

I was really stressed out about the idea of going around asking random strangers if they wanted to take a lesson from me, but after seeing how happy the kid was, it made it all worthwhile.

Diving is a life-changing experience and being part of that experience and introducing more people to diving is really rewarding. The psychology, physiology, physics, geography, biology and everything else that you need to learn is also a challenge but a lot of fun with the context of such a meaningful activity. Finally, it seems like dive instruction attracts a kind of personality that enjoys life, but is able to focus on logistics, safety and the academic aspects of diving and I’m very happy with my new and expanding network of dive instructors around the world.

Special thanks to Rama for getting me into all of this, Mahmoud for doing my Open Water certification and to my course directors Grant, Ernst and Stephen for coordinating all of the Divemaster and specialty courses. Kudos to everyone at the Pavilion Dive Centre, Hana and to team awesomer partner Linden for being my buddy in my Rescue Diver course. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you both as a student and a colleague.