If you ask anyone that has done some dive training they will tell you that you have to be prepared to get yelled at. A lot. I’ve had to learn to leave my ego at the shore for every dive training class that I’ve attended. It definitely varies in degree depending on the instructor but you are guaranteed to be at the wrong end of several hours of harsh corrections. They point, grab, yell, pull, yank and maybe – just maybe, tell you that you did something okay. It’s the whole point, really. The instructor feels a tremendous weight to show you the safest way to manage a very dangerous situation so you just have to let it come at you full force and learn the lessons.
My visceral instinct is to defend myself but you have to let that wash over you. I am here because I don’t have these skills and want to learn them. When my instructor tears me apart – I have to let it happen. It’s the development part. The meat of the thing that I’ve thrown myself into. Today was hard but wonderful. I came home last night completely worn out after 10 hours in the classroom and had several hours of homework after that. My shoulder was still killing me so I didn’t get a lot of sleep and got up at 4 AM to review my in water demo skills again and was back at the training pool by 6 AM.
We spent seven hours in the pool today showing 24 “demonstration quality” skills that I will be using when I start teaching a class. There were no less than four instructors rating our performance and it was intense. We would demonstrate a skill and then receive a long list of feedback. It was mostly good but very very very specific. If your motions were too fast or you weren’t watching your other students while also maintaining perfect buoyancy then you got dinged. To make thing more interesting, the instructors throw curve balls on every skill. They give our fellow students ways to mess with you to see if you can manage it. You are going through your demo and everything is going great. Then your student is spitting out their regulator and grabbing at their mask. You have to deal with this hot mess while also constantly swiveling your head around to keep track of your other students and your assistant. You just can’t freak out. Keep breathing and solve the problem. I did several skills that I thought were picture perfect and then had to absorb 5 minutes of corrections that I had never thought of before. Listen, learn and correct. I can’t be defensive or hurt. I am here to learn something I don’t know.
After our pool skills were were all exhausted but we grabbed some lunch and went back into the classroom to re-learn rescue skills for an unresponsive diver. This is the real deal. If you have a diver that is unconscious in the water, you have to know all the steps to turn them over, remove their gear, give rescue breaths, tow them to the boat or shore and summon medical help. Then we gave our first classroom teaching demo using the PADI lesson plan method that includes a ten point checklist of items that they want you to hit on every lesson plan. Engage your students in interactive scenarios, state the objective, answer the question, reinforce the value, tie in training aids, sell dive travel and products, incorporate online tools, summarize and reinforce. Oh, and be fluid and engaging. Don’t forget that part!
It really is a great feeling though when I get to the end of these hard days. I’ve learned so much already and it is going great. I am nailing some skills that I wasn’t really good at before and really bonding with my fellow students. We are learning little tricks to help each other out and have made a pact to stick together for our instructor exam next week. If we can do the live stuff together for the PADI instructors that would be great. We are learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we lean into those to help each other out in subtle ways. It’s sweet to watch them help me out and I can return the favor. We feel the anxiety together and it’s what gets us through to the next skill. Maybe that is the best thing I’ve learned so far.