National Association of Rescue Divers

Basic Instruction

Before any team can go into operation they must first be trained. All new members coming on a team must be trained to the Team's standards. Finally the team must have an on going continuing education program to maintain proficiency and remain up to date. Every member must be a competent instructor. This is because they not only teach each other, but should provide public service by presenting dive and water safety classes to dive clubs, community groups and schools. Teams that operate in the same area sometimes get together to learn from each other. These seminar type learning sessions can be of the greatest benefit to everyone who attends.

A good instructor must follow definite rules of order to be effective. He should be physically fit, an over weight, out of shape instructor of rescue work will be ineffective. He will have to prove to the class that he can perform what he is talking about. Water rescue operations are strenuous requiring that all participants stay fit. Dive members must uphold a professional attitude at all times to deserve cooperation and respect.

A good instructor realizes that everyone differs in their mental and physical make-up and must adjust his teaching to fit the abilities of each student. He knows that without interest in the subject, teaching is futile. When a students fail to see any benefit of a class, they cease to learn.

The physical well being of the student increases learning potential. Comfort increases the power of concentration, while discomfort greatly hinders the learning processes. The good instructor puts his class at ease before presenting a program.

A student learns better when he thinks he can. If he fears injury, criticism, or humiliation, learning will almost be impossible. As a good instructor never assign a task beyond any student's ability. Above all, always instill confidence in your students, do not withhold compliments. To many instructors feel that they will break their hand by patting someone on the back and giving them a ''well done''.

Before we consider how to teach we must first consider how people learn.

Studies Show That Students Retain Approximately:
of what is read
of what is heard
of what is seen
of what is seen and heard
of what they say

of what they do and say

These studies clearly indicate where emphasis in training should be. Putting all this together we see that people learn faster by seeing and hearing, than by hearing alone. When doing is added, learning is faster and more permanent. People tend to remember what they did better than what they were told. Thus training that is as near actual conditions as possible is of the greatest benefit. From this scenario training was born.

Students will only learn when they really want to and feel there is a need. They must have the urge to learn and interest in the subject.

Students have to get some pleasure out of the training. When the student has satisfaction from success in learning a task he will have a tendency to want to develop and practice more skills. The more success the student has the greater his desire to learn. People try to avoid things that are displeasing. They will want to do over and over again the skills they do well, this makes training a pleasure rather than a task. The more often a skill is performed the better the person is at doing it.

In classroom teaching the lecture is the most used and abused form of teaching. It is best used with other methods, and is a valuable tool for the teacher who recognizes its merits and limitations. Lectures work well to introduce new topics, and create interest. It serves well for describing task that well be expected. And it is useful in relating the lesson to experience, but remember, teaching is not telling a bunch of war stories. The primary rule for giving a lecture is: Telling is not teaching, and listening is not learning. Do not use a lecture to describe manipulative processes or complex task. Lectures are a tool to be used with other forms of teaching, not to be used exclusively.

Demonstrations show the students what you the instructor want them to learn. It uses seeing and hearing for learning and then further instills the task by the student doing, and saying the act. A good demonstration should exhibit good showmanship. In a demonstration the instructor must use the same equipment and materials the learner will use. He must show what is to be done by actually performing the task or skill and explaining why, he is doing it, as well as what he is doing. As he explains what he is doing, all key points and cautions must be reinforced. The demonstration is used to show a student how to do a skill or task. It also can be used to show how a piece of equipment operates

When setting up a demonstration rehearse in advance of showing it to the group. Anticipate any difficulty of certain steps. Have all equipment and materials ready by setting up in advance of the class. Make the demonstration short. When the task is long, break it down into short sub-task, and then put the whole thing together. Perform the task at normal speed and then repeat it slower reinforcing the key points and answering questions. Be sure that everyone can see. Explain the why of each and every step. Never do a sloppy job before students. Time must be allotted for the students to perform the skill or task immediately following a demonstration.

Illustrations can make anything more easily understood. They can improve oral explanations. On internal workings of parts they are more intelligible than the real thing. Select illustrative material with care. Show them only at the time they are needed.

Discussion periods provide the opportunities for individuals in the group to express their ideas and experiences. It has many uses but if the instructor is not skilled in the technique it can be unsatisfactory. At the beginning of class it can be used to review and stimulate student interest and participation. It promotes a common understanding of the subject. The instructor must not dominate the discussion.

Learning by doing has a 90% retention, but performing a task without direction and guidance has little educational value. No teaching aid is of any use without the instructor. Any class that does not have student activity is boring. The practice drill is not only an effective way for the student to learn but also establishes desirable habits. The student learns by exercising the skill or task under the instructors direction. The skill must be over learned to the point of habit.

Many of the skills we perform are automatic. They are done with little or no conscious thought. This is particularly true of the task we do everyday, such as attaching a regulator to a tank. In teaching, this familiarity may be a disadvantage. The instructor must use a scheme that will make him think of the things he does automatically, or he may overlook them when teaching the skill. Make a task breakdown before teaching the skill. This helps in recalling details that might be over looked. A task break down also helps in putting the skill in a logical and systematic order.

Have an assistant perform the skill while you watch and study each step for key points. Note any step that might cause injury, or damage to equipment.

When doing a practice drill get the students started by doing it right the first time, then see to it they do it that way every time. Encourage them to think the objective through, and explain it as they perform the drill. Come back to earlier learned skills to insure over learning.

One of the most used visual aids in classroom teaching is the blackboard. It is advantageous for group instruction, intensifies student interest and attention. When getting the board ready write a few lines as you normally would and then walk to the back of the room to test readability and glare. Make letters and drawing large enough to be seen from all parts of the room. Color provides emphasis. If using color combinations, test the degree of contrast by viewing the board from various parts of the room. Avoid glare by lowering a window shade, or adjusting room light.
Anything placed on the board should be brief. Lengthy outlines or subject matter should be given out as a handout. The blackboard should be thought of as a store window. If overcrowded and disorganized, it is of little value. Plan ahead. Before class insure that there is chalk, ruler, eraser and anything else needed. Erase all unrelated material to the class being given. Prepare complicated board layouts before the group meets. Allow time for students taking notes. Watch where you stand by not standing in front of the board. Underline important points, and use a pointer to focus attention.
When dealing with students avoid criticizing. Be objective and helpful. Always find something to compliment the student on before correcting him. Be sincere. The best thing to do is have the student correct himself. Do not embarrass the student. You must find out if the student can perform the skills. You do not to this by asking, but by having him do it over and over again. After you are satisfied that he can perform a task, put him in a situation where he will perform it on his own. During this phase let him know how he is doing.
  • Put the class at ease.

  • Explain the lesson and its importance.

  • Create interest. Never assume you have the interest of the class. You must present the need to the student to create interest.

  • Follow your organized topics and teaching points.

  • Explain and demonstrate. Take one step at a time.

  • Stress key points.

  • Use simple language.

  • Do not do all the talking, interact. Students learn from discussions. Discussions require the student to think.

  • Set a high standard for yourself. When students watch the instructor perform a skill he regards your performance as the proper way to do it. Your work sets the standard.

  • When showing a skill, only do one at a time. After that one has been taught and practiced, proceed to the next.

  • When students are demonstrating a task have them explain it as they proceed.

National Association of Rescue Divers



P.O. Box 590474, Houston, Texas 77259-0474

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