In the first two parts of this series, you learned that with a mentoring, open approach instead of a “me-instructor-you-student” approach, the PADI® Divemaster course is usually one of the easier and more rewarding programs to teach. (To read the first and second installments, go here and here.) Much as in confined water, open water training includes divemaster-candidate skill development and practical application, so you can approach the skills development and practical applications similarly, with some nuances.
Have Them Learn the Skills Ahead
Skill 1 (Dive Site Setup and Management) and Skill 3 (Dive Briefing) are like confined water skill development in that these involve skills divemaster candidates have seen repeatedly as divers, so treat these like you do in confined water: Confirm they’ve completed their independent study, give a role-model demonstration, then have them do the setups and briefings as covered in the “PADI Divemaster Course Instructor Guide” and PADI’s Guide to Teaching, followed by prescriptive adjustments and repetition as needed.
On the other hand, Skill 2 (Mapping Project), Skill 4 (Search and Recovery Scenario) and Skill 5 (Deep Dive Scenario) differ in that these involve skills candidates may have little or no experience with. We’ll come back to the mapping project, but here’s the best approach to teaching Skills 4 and 5.
Don’t. At least, not in the PADI Divemaster course.
A better approach is to have candidates complete the PADI Search and Recovery Diver and PADI Deep Diver courses with you. This has several advantages:
Candidates develop related knowledge and skills to a deeper depth (no pun intended).The classes can include divers who are not PADI Divemaster candidates; the candidates help fill the class, and also promote PADI Divemaster to the non-candidates.Candidates earn a credential that is a step toward Master Scuba Diver, and later as instructors helps them become Master Scuba Diver Trainers.Candidates gain experience watching your divemasters assist with specialty training, not mention how you teach, which, too, can help them later as instructors.By learning in the specialty courses, the scheduled PADI Divemaster course time shrinks because you’re not teaching from scratch. Instead, you simply brief Skills 4 and 5 simply and then have candidates execute them to confirm mastery and retention.
Just Go Map It
The mapping project is one of the easiest from a conduct point-of-view. PADI Divemaster eLearning covers the “how to” well, so brief candidate buddy teams on the performance requirements, then assign each a site to map that you know well (ideally different for each team) – on their own schedule without you there. Encourage them to be creative in techniques – there other ways to survey and plot beyond what’s in PADI materials – and here’s a tip: Ask each team to note the location of something specific and different (if there is one at their assigned site) on their map that you’re pretty sure few other divers know about. This helps encourage a thorough survey and helps discourage cheating. (Well, over-sharing information with other teams or divers.)
Practical Applications and Workshops
As you do with confined water practical applications and workshops, structure the open water ones so you develop candidates’ skills by creating increasingly complex problems that require good judgment.
For example, in Practical Assessment 2, Open Water Diver Students in Open Water, you can have a simulated student show up late and need to get caught up with predive preparation. Or, for Practical Application 4, Certified Divers in Open Water, have a simulated supervised certified diver seem to be very rusty and unsure, but reluctant to admit it – an awkward situation for any professional. Simulated problems like these open group discussions about judgment, insights, intuition and other issues that require more interpersonal mentoring than do “this is right/this is wrong” problems. Weaving these into your practical assessments develops candidate confidence and capabilities, and is more rewarding for you as their guide and mentor. Add practice sessions to enhance learning, especially as they may relate to the local environment.
Hopefully this blog series will help make your PADI Divemaster courses more efficient, effective and rewarding for you, but for those who’ve not trained many (or any) PADI Divemasters, beyond the obvious benefits there are some not-necessarily-obvious reasons to do so:
Home-grown certified assistants. Certified assistants are golden, and especially those you and your dive operation train and mentor. They know how you do things, what issues you watch for and how to support what’s going on. It’s as if they can read your mind sometimes, which is awesome underwater.Up-and-coming colleagues. Active PADI Divemasters don’t always stay PADI Divemasters, instead moving on to PADI Instructor. This makes them well suited for team-teaching and referrals from day one because, again, they know how you do things.You make friends. A common love of diving, close interactions over an extended period with a high-level of respect has a knack for drawing people together. It is hard to mentor someone and not be friends at least to some degree. And, mentoring doesn’t stop when they’re certified, so as you work and dive together you tend to become closer with many of your divemasters. When they become PADI Instructors, team-teaching or otherwise interacting together continues this, and just as iron sharpens iron before long you’re learning from each other.For life. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints on your heart.” The PADI Divemaster course is a proven source of the latter. Casual meetings that start with someone signing up for your course often grow into deep-seated relationships extending well beyond diving. It’s a subset certainly, but it’s not unusual for people to meet as co-candidates or instructor-and-candidate and stay in touch for decades. They grow together as confidants, business partners, often as close as family. In fact, on occasion, they marry and actually become family.
With that in mind, it’s hard to think of a better reason to teach PADI Divemaster.
Business of Diving / Business Support, Teaching Tips, Divemaster course, mentoring, open waterPADI Pros