A day one Open Water Course awaits me today, which means my next few days will challenging whoever the guests are. I’m always a bit anxious on the first day, as you never know who is going to turn up and what their motivations are. Champion swimmers who fancy being under the water instead of on top (always have high air consumption due to the natural reaction to fin incredibly quickly) or siblings (who are always competitive and love a good argument). There are the lovely students who are fulfilling a lifelong dream (always very determined and will not give up) and those who are simply keeping a loved one company (you really never know how that’s going to work out).
Whatever their reasons, it’s my job to get them through it and produce a capable (and hopefully enthusiastic) diver. So with my different teaching personas at the ready, my guests arrive. It’s a pair of lads who are on holiday with the sole purpose of diving. Even better, it turns out they are military. Now these are my easiest students every time. Ask, they do. End of. As I exhale with a sigh of relief at how easy my next few days will be, they eagerly start the academics and quickly produce a perfect set of knowledge reviews and quizzes.
Possibly in the quickest time ever, we are hitting the water for the first confined session. Those who know me will have seen the following happen many times and probably still laugh at the memory. I’m 5ft 2” in flip flops and these guys are both at least 6ft. In the shallows of the bay, this provides me with logistical issues as a teacher. They have to be in water shallow enough to stand up in. Well, for this to be the case, I have to be well out of my depth! Demonstrating some of the skills on the surface becomes interesting as I have no ‘grounding’ and can’t even reach the bottom on my fin tips. Luckily, they listened in the initial briefing so as I see colleagues come and go with a smirk on their faces; my students are doing a fine job as I attempt to not float away across Naama Bay!
Luckily underwater it makes no difference and we are soon flying through skills and are finished before I know it. As we complete the underwater tour, I look behind me and realise they could pass for qualified divers already. Although I point out the coral growing on the pots and artificial reef, their serious faces tell me this is more like a test to them than a chance to enjoy the underwater life. This does happen a lot, but by the end, you see a marked difference when you can’t get them to watch you at all as they become engrossed in the smallest of critters.
As I said earlier, the Military are the easiest of people to teach, but I’m reminded of the downside. My challenge is to ensure they stop seeing me as issuing orders, instead seeing me as what I am, a teacher (and I think a reasonably nice one at that!)