My wife and I have been sailing our recently purchased Catalina
22 on the weekends and finally decided that trial and error wasn't enough so we signed up for ASA
101 at our local yacht club. I'm pretty solidly bitten by the sailing bug, but to date my wife has really just been accommodating and open to the idea of possibly making sailing part of lifestyle. So, we spent this Saturday and Sunday with our two instructors and 4 fellow students sailing around the local lake, doing COB drills and tuning our skills a bit. I have to say we both really learned a lot, it's amazing how much info an experienced sailor can share in a short period of time. We had two instructors and they where both very knowledgeable, but with very different styles. Our favorite instructor was the guy that spent as much time as necessary answering questions and explaining what we where about to do, in great detail before asking us to do it. The other was obviously extremely knowledgeable but was less detailed in explaining concepts and almost just expected us to anticipate his moves in advance, which we found confusing and frustrating when trying to do drills with things like COB and stopping the boat.
I honestly think if we'd have been stuck with this second instructor that my wife would have quit the class out of frustration that sailing was just too complicated. But being able to circle back around with the better of the two, really made a huge difference in everyone's confidence and actually got my wife excited about getting back on our boat and putting everything we'd learned to use on our little boat. Who could ask for more than that? So all in all I couldn't be happier and feel this weekend was a great use of our time. Now I'm pretty confident we'll be ready for our upcoming 103 and 104 charter
class in the BVI's, this June, booked before the 101 class.
As a (very) part time SCUBA
instructor, this weekend really drove home how important it is for those of us who choose to teach, just how important it is to stop and put yourself in your students shoes. The vocabulary, skills, and drills that come so easily to someone who's been doing it for years...took years to build. So keep that in mind, stop and slow down to get a read from your students, are they really understanding the concepts and asking questions because they're engaged? If not, now's probably a good time to take a break, slow down and remember what it was like the first time you where exposed to this material. Explain the entire process from start to finish and what the purpose of the steps are, along with the end goal. Then be calm and reassuring as your students make mistakes
and help them to correct them and learn from your experience. Learning
and performing new tasks is stressful for most of us, your attitude has a lot to do with your students enjoyment and how much they'll learn.
If you'll take the time to take this approach, I can promise you that your students will appreciate it and get much more out of the class. Chances are, you might even hook them on the sport and get future business from them for continuing-ed courses.
I realize this sounds like common sense, but I honestly think it's harder to do than it sounds, give it a shot. I know I'll be making a more concerted effort, the next time I teach a SCUBA