For many recreational divers this title is a little confusing – do they teach staff? Are they still Open Water Instructors? What does this title enable them to do?
Instructors become instructors for the love of diving and the desire to share this experience with others. As a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI) you have the ability to teach the core courses (Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue and Divemaster) and a few specialty courses as well (Peak Performance Buoyancy, Project AWARE etc.), and as a Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT), as the name implies, you have the ability to certify Master Scuba Divers – teaching the core plus 5 specialty courses.
As interest grows in teaching more of the specialties, and it will for most as it is much easier to become an “Elite” instructor by teaching the specialties than the core courses, as well as the variety of diving associated with teaching the specialties, instructors will naturally expand their scope as Specialty Instructors.
So, the step from OSWI to MSDT is a natural one and one that can be accomplished with a little work and taking either an MSDT Prep Program, an integrated approach to getting 5 specialty certifications usually taken soon after completing the Instructor Exam (IE), and issuing 25 certifications, or completing 5 specialty instructor certifications as independent programs. But, the step from MSDT to IDC Staff is a little different. At first glance, you are able to teach only one additional certification, Assistant Instructor, so is it worth the time and expense to step up to this level.
To answer this, it’s a good idea to look at what an IDC Staff Instructor can do in addition to certifying AIs and the benefits to both the instructor and to the students that they teach at all levels of recreational diving.
To become an IDC Staff Instructor, the MSDT
must attend an IDC Staff Instructor course. At this course they will either teach a full AI program under the guidance of Course Director (CD) or they will complete 2 days of IDC Staff Instructor specific training and then staff a full IDC (there are of course additional requirements that can be found in the Instructor Manual). During this program, you will learn the latest techniques in student evaluation in the water, the psychology of evaluating knowledge development presentations and the latest variations in terms of how skills are taught and courses are run.
Believe it or not, there are changes that occur to how skills are performed as well as new skills that are added or skills that are modified – you may have read about these in the Undersea Journal, but during the IDC Staff Instructor course you are going to put them into practice. So, completing the program will give you a major refresh of your skills, first time for most since doing your original IDC.
Another advantage of the IDC Staff Instructor course is that you will receive your own Course Director Manual. The Course Director Manual is full of information on teaching techniques and additional background information on courses that you may conduct, as well as containing specific information on running the AI program you will be qualified to teach.
As an IDC Staff Instructor, don’t consider the AI Program as the only new program that you will be able to teach. IDC Staff Instructors are certified to Staff IDCs. As part of the instructional staff at an IDC you will assist instructor candidates gain the experience and knowledge that they need to be great instructors. You may assist with most part of the program from planning to delivering some of the presentations required of the program. Each time that you staff an IDC as an IDC Staff Instructor you gain teaching credit towards higher level certifications such as Master Instructor (MI).
Probably one of the most important part of staffing IDCs as a Staff Instructor is that you will refresh your skills each time you do one. For many instructors, you teach courses every week. Even though you may be there with other instructors or even team teaching, you will find that over time your skills will drift a little, you will develop your way of completing skills that work for you and of course, meet PADI standards, however, we rarely have the opportunity to work with a CD to see different ways of doing skills, different approaches to the same skill to achieve the same mastery. Because of this, instructors that continue to staff IDCs tend to be more rounded and up to date in their skills with a wider variety of teaching capabilities than those that have ended their core training with OWSI.
Overall, having staffed many IDCs with lots of CDs on my way to becoming a Course Director, I have to say that staffing IDCs is a rewarding process. You will derive a great deal of satisfaction as students that you have trained step up to get their Instructor Exam certificates. You will broaden your skills by continuing to work with your CD(s) – they are the ones that PADI relies upon to pass the latest and greatest training approaches along after all.
If you want to go to “the horse’s mouth” to keep your skills current you also have the opportunity to do that as an IDC Staff Instructor by attending the IDC Staff Instructor Update Live at DEMA. This program is run by the same people that conducted the Course Director Training Course that your CDs attended.