I have been a Scuba instructor now for a little over 15 years. I have been an active instructor, with the exception of a year or two break due to reasons beyond my control., In the scope of things, this may not seem like a large feat. However, I have noticed that a great number of people I taught with over the years have stopped teaching. I am sure there are lots of reasons for it and every reason is acceptable. What has kept me teaching? It is the “ah ha” moments.
An “ah ha” moment, for me, comes in two varieties. One is in the classroom when there is a student who is struggling with a concept. They just do not get it! Then, while you are explaining it to them, you can see the light come on and they get it. The second occurs in the pool or during open water training. They are struggling with a new skill or have just decided they cannot or will not do it. You convince them that they can do it, and then you find the technique that works for them. When they do the skill, you can see the joy or relief in there face.
I start every open water pool session by having the students breath from the regulator and just put there face in the water while in the shallow end. I let them breathe like this for a minute or so. I then congratulate them on doing the “hardest” skill–No Mask Breathing. I explain they will do it again but now we all know they can do it. So, like all classes I started my last class the same way. We then move on to partial flood and clear and total flood and clear. Near the end of the pool session for that day, I announce that we are now going to remove our mask, breath for one minute and then replace and clear the mask. I could see the utter terror on one students face, we will call him Joe. (Note: student was 12 years old) We all descended and as always, I demonstrated the skill. My divemaster noticed how nervous Joe was and moved next to him. I love a vigilant divemaster! While I was evaluating other students, I would glance over at Joe. The closer I got, the more upset he appeared. I told him to wait as I went on to the remainder of the students. I then sent the class, minus Joe, to swim around under the supervision of the DM. Joe and I surfaced. To say he was upset was an understatement. He had already convinced himself that he could not do it. Drawing up on my years of teaching and of being a father, I convinced him he could. After repeating the first experience of no mask breathing, we descended and Joe did the skill like he had been doing it for years. When he cleared his mask, you could see the smile on his face.
That was Joe’s “ah ha” moment and that is why I continue to teach.