I’ve always been an advocate of continuous improvement and development in teaching as in life. I fall into a category of ‘Lifelong Learner’.
I found myself reading about reflective practice in teaching and began to experiment with it in my own teaching. After having some great conversations with a former candidate who just so happens to be a very experienced educator herself, I found myself wanting in implement it into the course I was teaching at the professional level with my students too.
Over time I crafted three questions that I take time to reflect on after the completion of a course, which themselves are fluid and continually evolving.
I now sit with the candidates after each pool and open water workshop and session and we run through the questions together. I lead the first session by giving my own impressions and then let the candidates take the lead after that.
Let’s take a look at my current iteration of the questions we use:
- What did I do well? I, like many people, can be overly self-critical, especially if things have gone exactly as planned. Starting with a little positive reinforcement is something we teach dive professionals to do with their students and customers, so why not ourselves?
Did your logistics run on time? How about a particular skill a student had struggled with and helped them through it?
- What could I have done better? Be selective with this one, just one or two things that may be improved. Don’t sweat the small stuff and remember you can only control things you can influence.
If the weather turned and you couldn’t complete something in the course, that’s out of your control. Could you build space in your program's structure for the next time just in case? That’s something you have influence over.
- What did the students and/or the environment, teach me? This question evolved for me recently after taking some newly certified instructors out for a bridging day after their IE. A day that stripped away the rigidity and sterility of the score sheet and pool and let them teach multiple skills in a confined open water setting.
After we completed the day I asked the instructors go through these questions, just as we had after every session of their IDC, and I found myself adjusting my final question to the day’s activity – what did the environment teach you?
I’ve introduced this practice into every one of my professional development programs and found them greatly beneficial and seen fantastic improvements with things such as dive site set up, close control, briefing efficiency and self-confidence.
You may be able to answer each question after every course you teach; things do go well from start to finish sometimes, but having it as part of your teaching will help you along the way to better courses and better students too.