Monday, November 07, 2005

Back in the classroom again

A while ago I wrote about continuing education and how important it is to keep learning, especially when it comes to SCUBA diving. Last weekend, I found myself in class again, this time learning to be an instructor to student instructors. As I wrote previously, I like learning new things and part of the reason why I signed up for the staff instructor course was to learn more and to refine my skills. It has often been said that to really learn something you need to teach it.

There is a great deal of material that is covered in the instructor development course and we are expected to have mastered the material way beyond what is necessary for the student instructors. This of course is obvious since we will have to teach the material sometime in the future. The last time I studied the material it was all new and exciting, yet overwhelming. This time the material is not quite so overwhelming, yet there is a great deal to cover. Believe it or not, we actually enjoy the physics, physiology and theory parts. The part that is least fun is doing presentations to a group of your peers who find great joy and pleasure in pulling apart your presentations. It is all in good fun though. The pressure makes us work harder and makes us better instructors.

An observation that one of my fellow students made was how different it is "to be on the other side of the table". By this he meant how different it felt to sit in on presentations and skill demonstrations and do the evaluating. On the one hand one tends to be very lenient because you know how stressful it is to do the skill demonstrations to a group of evaluators, but on the other hand I remember how tough my instructors were on me when I was doing the same thing (at least that is how it felt). The term "splitting hair" comes to mind when thinking back on some of the comments I heard about my presentations. However, the tough learning environment more than prepared me for the actual classroom environment where I had to deliver the material to a group of eager student divers.

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