Advanced Instructor – Anyone?
Following on from Spikes article about TIEs, PIEs and IFCs..I thought I would pick up mantle and rattle on about the Advanced Instructor exam that I have recently taken.
Firstly, the questions has to be asked, why become an Advanced Instructor?
So here goes…
There are sections of the Advance diver syllabus that you can not teach as an Open Water Instructor, you can go on to teach within the Region and you can start on the road to teaching would be instructors! Out of all of these, looking to teach advance divers and help bring on would be instructors appealed to me the most!
At the beginning of the year I managed to persuade Dave Beadling to come on the AIC, that’s the Advanced Instructor Course to you and I. After some amount of persuading, Dave B agreed and we booked on the 2 day course in Portland. June arrived and not really reading the part in the briefing notes about taking your lunch with you as it’s a busy weekend, we headed off with all the dive kit you could possibly imagine in tow. I thought the weekend was doomed as Dave ran over a rabbit on the way down there and I was convinced it was a bad omen. But squashed bunnies aside, the weekend was very good if not a little chaotic, busy and the lack of lunch!
We were split up into groups to go through the various different elements of the exam, Surface teaching, an instructional dive, project dive, classroom teaching and OWI critique. Each element was covered off with your diving buddy and a NI, that’s a National Instructor, feedback was given on each element, where you can improve and where you are already up to standard. The whole ethos of being an Advanced Instructor is about practical teaching, so everything needs to be practical, which was very different to how I was taught to teach originally! So with the 2 day course behind us, we were ready to book the exam and take the theory paper.
Dave B then came up with a very lame excuse that he needed to sit his work exams rather than hold my hand taking the AI exam, so I booked the exam and started on the long list I needed to revise for the theory exam. Taking the theory exam was possibly the worse exam I have ever had to take ﾐ 60 questions in 60 minutes with the most horrendous multi level BSAC ’88 table questions you could ever encounter! Once that was done and my paper marked, I booked on the 2 day exam at the end of September!
After several session practicing my OWI critique with Claire and Spike in the pool, putting together every possible lesson I could think of and practising my classroom lesson so many times I knew it off by heart, I was ready! Off back down to Portland to now complete the two day exam, the brief the examiners gave you at the start is teach, teach, teach and teach some more. On the Saturday morning, my first dive was the project dive. This was a lift and shift, so I had to teach everything from tying the most suitable knot, to buoyancy, filling a lifting bag, line laying, putting in a shot, compass work and the obligatory sending up a DSMB! You teach the dry run and then you teach the lesson in water. Bearing in mind the weather for weekend was blowing a force 7, so as soon as I stepped on the hardboat, my seasickness came on with vengeance. So there I was trying to teach my examiner how to dive marshal whilst trying not to vomit on them! We also were give our 10 minute dummy lesson by our examiner that we had to feedback to them with using the OWI critique method, which seemed to go ok even though I had left my slate at home!
Back on land, and off for the classroom session, a 15 minute presentation teaching in a practical way. After that we then had a start for surface teaching by teaching our examiners how to plan a dive, that using chart work, tides, Portland plotters and everything related to planning a dive. With dinner being served at 8.30pm, we only managed to finish all our planning and teaching at 8.10, so a quick shower and off to dinner. Most of the students were falling asleep at the table and headed off to bed once the meal had finished. Sunday was an early start and was the turn of my instructional dive. I have to teach a first wreck dive, so that includes diving the wreck, decent, ascent, dive leadership, pilotage, distance line laying, wreck orientation, use of dry suit, entry and exit from a boat, kitting up and finally a DSMB deployment! We then had to teach dive marshalling on the RIB and also marshal for the other pairs going diving. There was so much going on and it was an exhausting weekend. All the teaching had now finished, we could relax, pack up our kit and head off home. Now I just had the 5 day wait to see if I had passed!
Thank you to those who helped me with all of the prep work, Claire, Spike for being my OWI ginney pigs, Neil Martin with the classroom element, Mark Cluett for listening to my repeated lessons over and over and over again and Dave T for listening to me going on about the fact that I must have failed.. Anyway, you’ll be pleased to know I didn’t fail and I came away with 3 merits out of the 6 elements.
If you are an Advanced diver and an Open Water Instructor, I would highly recommend you try the 2 day course on for size!