Review of BSAC Snorkelling Instructor Course: Feb 2012

On Saturday 18th February I joined a very pleasant, interesting bunch of peers for a two day Snorkel Instructor’s Course run by BSAC. For a weekend – it was an early start but everyone was in good spirits in anticipation of what we hoped would be an exciting, informative weekend.

As a diver I was surprised and pleased to see that the majority of my fellow students were also divers who, like me, recognised the importance of good snorkelling skills and how snorkelling can encourage future members to BSAC - both snorkellers and divers.

I felt honoured that our club, Oxford BSAC, was hosting the event. There were four students from our club and Debbie White (our Snorkel Training Officer) was there to support us and ensure the visiting Instructors had everything they needed for the training.

We had four Instructor Trainers: Adrian, Martin, Marg, and Steve, who took turns to deliver their knowledge, skills and information to help us to develop our ability to deliver Snorkel training to “try snorkellers”, Snorkel Divers and Dolphin-level snorkellers. At the start it seemed like a daunting level of information to take on board. However, thanks to the different teaching styles, varied experiences and no opportunity lost to chip in with invaluable advice and important snippets of knowledge, the whole weekend was a very enjoyable experience.

We had a mixture of talks, group work, pool training and assessments. The groups were organised in a way to encourage members to mix. This was invaluable because of the range of experience everyone had. Our groups were supervised by at least two different instructors. This again was very useful because of different experience and teaching approaches.

The initial pool training was very enjoyable and demonstrated how to teach familiar skills by breaking them down into small steps. When shown, it seemed so obvious. Safety was, as always, paramount in all aspects of the training. The acronyms SEEDS (safety, exercise, equipment, discipline, signals) for briefing; STEP (safe, technically correct, effective, progressive) for the lesson; and REAP (review, encourage, assess, preview) were taught, demonstrated and drilled into us!

These essential steps for pool training ensure nothing is overlooked/ missed – and provide safe, enjoyable and fun lessons for students. The pool trainers had an awful lot to teach us, in a relatively short time, but did a fantastic job. We learnt how to make best safe use of the pool, and be mindful of others. After the pool session, we were told it would be our turn the following morning to teach a lesson to our other group members.

Once back in the classroom how to deliver effective theory lessons was explained. The acronym PAVE (progressive, accurate, visual, effective) was introduced and used.

Before the assessments our Instructors took us through how to plan lessons for the pool and classroom and at the end of the planning sessions we were randomly assigned our lessons to teach the next day. Time was tight but for the classroom we were encouraged to use visual aids to help our teaching. Although powerpoint was available, most of our group used A4 pads to deliver our lessons, this was deemed appropriate to get our lesson over to the class. For the pool lessons we all prepared our in water lesson slates, so we didn’t forget the different steps we were using to teach the skill.

The Theory Assessment was a typical BSAC multiple choice paper, which was relatively quick to complete. A number of us scored 100%.

None of this is as difficult as it sounds, and I would urge anyone who is worried about teaching others, do not be put off. This course is designed to introduce you step by step to teaching others in a very supportive way.

We all passed each of the assessments; we learnt lots and had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend.

Fiona Johns

Snorkel Diving Instructor, Ocean Diver, (currently training as Sports Diver).

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