What to Bring to Your Instructor Exam

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Thanks to Maryse Dare for the inspiration on this blog post. It’s one of those things that gets discussed a lot on an IDC so I thought it would be useful to put it all together in one place. So here is a definitive list of everything you should and shouldn’t bring on an IE.

First of all, you are regularly told throughout your IDC not to fear the IE, to relax and enjoy it, that everyone is on your side etc etc but very few things with the word exam in their title are relaxing and enjoyable (the words general, common, entrance and also rectal spring to mind) and it’s unlikely you will be leaping out of bed fist pumping the air with joy on the morning of your IE. However, there are things you can do that will lessen the stress of the whole experience.

Most important is to be prepared and ensure that you have every thing you need.

  1. Paperwork: Your Course Director should give you a giant wodge of paper to take to the IE. Whilst it’s important to ensure that this is all filled out correctly, what is absolutely, vitally important is that you bring a copy of an in date medical form signed by a doctor. If you don’t have one of them, you will not pass Go.
  1. The correct attitude: There are minimum passing scores for an IE. This doesn’t mean that this is the benchmark standard for a diving instructor. What it really allows is some leeway for otherwise completely competent people to have a ‘moment’ during exam conditions. I haven’t seen many centres advertising for mediocre instructors so strive to be as good as you can and then go, you’ll find the whole experience much more rewarding.
  1. The right exposure protection: IEs are a little like adult film sets, there can be a lot of waiting around for your turn to perform (apparently). That waiting around can also take place under the water so it’s crucial that you are wearing enough gear to stay warm. Don’t decide to wear your thinnest undersuit so you can be ‘flexible’ or ditch the gloves to aid in knot tying if it means that 30mins into the dive you’re borderline hypothermic and your hands have become inoperable numb claws. It’s also important for the pool too. First off remember a wetsuit, I nearly forgot mine on my IE which meant I could have ended up doing it in my pants, something no PADI examiner should have to witness. Swimming pools aren’t always that warm either so consider a full suit (they’re better for horizontal hovering too).
  1. Your basic kit: Take all your usual kit including spares, now is not the time to stress about mask straps, buckles, o rings etc. The IE is also not the time to test your new drysuit or BCD. Making an arse first ascent to the surface entangled in a liftbag is not considered to best way to run the skill.
  1. Specialised Kit: You’ll need to ensure that you have all the other toys too. You will definitely need to have the following: Ropes (decent thick pieces of rope, not your shoe lace), liftbag, SMB and compass.
  1. A streamlined approach: You need to be streamlined in two ways on an IE. First of all your kit should be tidy and simple. Whenever I see an instructor candidate walking towards me in a giant flapping monstrosity of a BCD already partially incapacitated by neon yellow curly lanyards and retractors a small piece of my soul drifts away, lost forever in some corner of Wraysbury. You don’t need all the slates, just the slates you need. Also remember one of the great advantages of diving in a drysuit is that they have pockets. Put all your stuff in there, including your snorkel if you like, and be streamlined. Secondly you should have a streamlined approach to your presentations. In a real world scenario of course you might choose to spend more time elaborating on various key points but remember on an IE that it is unlikely that the examiners or other candidates have any doubts about how to clear a mask so keep your briefings and debriefings short and sweet.
  1. Tanks and weights: You won’t be supplied with any kit for the IE. ANY KIT.
  1. Your Game Face: This is an American expression. The English translation would be to conduct yourself with quiet, dignified stoicism. Running about flapping breathlessly with your drysuit round your ankles is not a good look during the IE.
  1. A calculator and an eRDP for the exam: You are not allowed to use your phone as it can be potentially used to cheat. You can use a calculator on a tablet and also download the eRDP app from PADI to use on your tablet as well though.

What not to bring to the IE:

  • A giant crate full of junk to use as non diving related training aid. We live in a digital age. Use your smart phone or tablet to access t’intenet and creatively illustrate your point.
  • Ankle weights: Take them off, you don’t need them.
  • Split fins: If you booked a swimming lesson and your instructor turned up wearing armbands, would it inspire confidence?
  • A hangover.

So there we have it, make sure you do all the above and you’ll be fine. In fact, you will definitely pass!*

*Please note, you will not definitely pass.

 

New combined PADI IDC and OCR Level 3 Diploma in Management

In some exciting news the London IDC alongside PADI and White Rose Training are now able to offer an OCR Level 3 Diploma in Management alongside the PADI IDC! The OCR Diploma is eligible for a learner loan from the government which makes the course incredibly accessible. To give you some idea about how all this works, here are some key questions answered:

WHAT IS IT?

The course is called an OCR Level 3 Diploma in Management. OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA) is the leading awarding body of accreditations from GCSEs to NVQs. The course is aimed at those who will or would like to take a management role in the workplace and deals with all aspects of management from coaching and mentoring to training and development and conflict management. The course results in a recognised, useful qualification which maybe in itself a proof of competence for a job role or can add value to an existing set of qualifications.

HOW DOES IT RELATE TO THE IDC?

The PADI Instructor Development Course already covers many areas that are required as proof to show competence for the Level 3 Diploma. As an example, the IDC teaches the use of various techniques for putting together teaching presentations whether in the classroom or under the water. During these presentations candidates will show the ability to effectively use their Divemaster assistants as well as evaluate and critique performance. These are just some of the areas where the Level 3 Diploma and the IDC overlap. This means we can use these parts of the IDC to teach the skills which the candidates can then demonstrate to meet the requirements of the OCR course.

IN ADDITION TO THE IDC WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO DO?

The IDC runs in almost exactly the same way as it normally does. The only 2 major differences are that an individual completing the Level 3 Diploma will also complete an online e-learning portfolio before, during and after the IDC. This is essentially where you’ll demonstrate how the lessons learnt during the IDC can be translated into more general management practices. This is the bulk of the OCR course which is independently assessed in an on going way by White Rose training and PADI.

There is also an extra module which needs to be completed for the IDC which is a ‘Diving Business Management Course’. This is a diving specific course which goes into far more detail of the business side of the dive industry. For example you’ll learn more about gross and net profit, margins and how to price products and courses.

WHO SHOULD TAKE THE COURSE?

This is an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to get into the diving industry as well as earn a useful business qualification which will assist them in applying for other non industry specific jobs. Given the eligibility of the course for government learner loans, it’s a great opportunity for people who are put off by the initial up front cost of becoming an instructor. It’s also excellent for someone looking to change their career or anyone wanting to do a more in depth, business orientated instructor course.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

As a OCR Level 3 Diploma the course is eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan from the government. These loans are potentially open to anyone resident in the UK over the age of 19. They are relatively simple to apply for and work in a very similar way to student loans in that you won’t need to start re-payments until you are earning over 21k and the payments then start very small, coming out of your PAYE, and tracking up with your income. The interest paid on the loan is at inflation plus a maximum of 3% dependent on your income.

The OCR Level 3 Course costs £2500 all of which is eligible for the advanced learner loan.

The PADI IDC costs £1199 to include the extra 2 days of the Diving Business Management Course.

PADI will provide the course materials, instructor application and IE for free.

HOW DO I SIGN UP?

Very simply by contacting us! The application for the learner loan is very easy to do and we can guide you through the process.

 

Candidate Spotlight: Dan Mills

Dan Mills

Our latest candidate spotlight is on Dan Mills who completed his IDC in 2014:

“I started diving in 2005 gradually gaining experience and progressing through the PADI system until completing Divemaster in 2012. I hadn’t really pictured myself as an instructor but I’ve always enjoyed training and coaching in my regular employment and I love diving so it seemed to make sense.
“I embarked on the IDC with Alex in the autumn of 2015 and passed the instructor exam at Whittlesey in the November.
“Of course we all learned a great deal during the IDC, fine tuned our own skills and really thought about the delivery of PADI OW courses and beyond. Alex created a relaxed atmosphere with room for debate, provided encouragement and fair critique and we developed considerable camaraderie within our cohort.
“I find I can get fairly frequent part time work as a freelance instructor for Aquanauts in Kingston, Diving Leisure London and Puerto Rico Diving in Gran Canaria. I genuinely enjoy introducing new divers to the sport, meeting people and making new friends.
“Since passing the IE, I have been lucky enough to spend time with Alex on Specialty Instructor weekends and attained MSDT.  As well as being an awesome diver, Alex is tremendously knowledgeable. His approach though is pragmatic and realistic and his slightly sarcastic sense of humour means that his courses are both enjoyable and memorable.  I have always felt comfortable checking my understanding of a standard or asking for advice or guidance. Even when it’s a topic from a recent blog (that I obviously missed) responses are patient, professional and generously given.  Nearly two years on, I’m looking forward to repeating the IDC – this time with the aim of becoming a Staff Instructor.
“Longer term I am planning to return to the Canary Islands, where it all began for me, and taking up the reins full time running the dive centre.  I’d like to think that while the London IDC made me the instructor I am, I will still be able to call on the support and friendly advice that will help continue my development as a PADI professional, even when I’m two thousand miles away.”

Why Become a PADI IDC Staff Instructor?

PADI IDC Staff Instructor is the last core recreational course before Course Director. It’s a real achievement to attain Staff Instructor so I thought I’d list three of the main reasons to push for the rating and also how to start:

1.Teaching IDCs.

PADI IDC Staff Instructor allows you to teach the Assistant Instructor part of the IDC. This is a great course to teach as it keeps you directly in touch with the standards and updates to the PADI system. It also makes you an invaluable member of the dive centre’s teaching staff as you can promote and aid the dive centre’s instructor development courses.

The London IDC has grown in success over the last couple of years and by becoming a Staff Instructor you can help to engage new candidates and also assist on the IDCs themselves. When we have lots of candidates, Staff Instructors are invaluable to the process. You won’t just be hanging about watching, you’ll be an integral part of the team, running teaching presentations and evaluating the candidates. I personally believe that helping run an IDC is one of the most rewarding jobs you can do as a diving instructor.

2.Master Instructor

After you attain Staff Instructor you’ll be able to begin working your way towards the Master Instructor rating. This relies on teaching AIs and also staffing IDCs. It’s not easy to attain and carries real kudos too.

3.Refreshing your skills.

Even if you’re not too fussed about teaching AI or Master Instructor many Staff candidates comment to me how useful they found sitting in on the IDC again without the pressure of the IE at the end. You’ll be able take everything in again as well as learn about new teaching methodologies. You’ll then be able to apply this to your everyday recreational courses. For example, we cover the neutral buoyancy recommendations for teaching all courses now including hints and tips for getting your students into trim and how to exercise control whilst neutrally buoyant.

What does the PADI Staff Instructor Course involve?

When should you think about staff? To start off, you’ll need to be a Master Scuba Diver Trainer which means having 25 certs and also 5 specialities. I did my Staff exactly one year after my OWSI and just after attaining MSDT.  There’s no great value in waiting until you have 100s of certs under your belt to do the course as, a bit like Advanced following on from Open Water, the information you’ll cover will be useful straight away.

The Staff course itself is fairly straightforward. We need to cover 4 short lectures and you’ll also need to repeat the exams scoring 80% instead of 75%. You’ll need to do a knowledge development presentation and also a confined water presentation scoring a minimum of 4 instead of 3.5 and 3.4. After that you’ll audit a full IDC learning how to evaluate the teaching presentations and matching scores with the Course Director. As such we can run the PADI IDC Staff Instructor course anytime we have an IDC running.

For more information have a look at the course page and also please do drop me a line!

Candidate Spotlight!

James Clack2

Our next candidate spotlight is on James Clack who completed his IDC with the London IDC at Diving Leisure London in 2014:

‘Having completed my divemaster in the summer of 2013 I was confident that a career in diving was something I wanted. After getting lots of advice from friends who are also dive professionals I was convinced to take the next step forward and complete my IDC and become a PADI instructor.

Due to the timings of the European dive season this only left me the winter to get this done. Having looked around London for an Course Director I came across Alex. I told him about my needs but also that I had no experience with cold water diving before. We met in the early January and began the course. Having proved my skills in the swimming pool we were able to focus on my main weakness; the written exams! Having never focused too much on the written side of diving I knew Alex would have to be patient with me but when the weekend of the exam came there were no problems and I passed. At the Easter I flew back out to Sicily where I completed my first full season as an instructor.

When I had completed this I knew I wanted to keep furthering my dive education so I made contact with Alex again and we made plans for me to take the MSDT course over the first weekend of November. Yet again time to dust off the dry suit! Following the completion of the course I was able to apply to a wider variety of jobs and I soon received an offer to go and work on the Pacific coast of Mexico. This was a huge opportunity and I completed a full 10 month season out there!

As for 2016 bring on Australia and the Great Barrier Reef!’

James Clack1

Candidate Spotlight!

Vanessa Baxter

This is the start of a regular spotlight on some of our successful candidates. Kicking us off is Vanessa Baxter who completed the IDC with Big Squid Dive centre in March 2015. After doing a bit of instructing in the UK, warmer climes came calling and now she’s working full time overseas as a Dive Officer at Frontier Tanzania located on Mafia Island.

Vanessa Baxter

In her words:

“Frontier Tanzania is a marine conservation outpost that works with the Tanzanian Marine Park, mainly the marine conservation reserve on Mafia Island to help protect and preserve the coral reefs and seas from over fishing and destruction from human activity.

My job responsibilities is to foresee all diving operations, including the boat maintenance, engine, safety and training, financial budgets and administration.

Alex couldn’t have prepared me any better for the IE and life within the dive industry! He has the ability to deliver massive amounts of information clearly and professionally, whilst maintaining an extremely laid back, fun and non stressful persona. His teaching techniques were also very modern and relevant to the PADI IDC. I can’t thank him enough for his patience and dedication during and after the IE!”

VB IE

Vaness Baxter passing her IE in March 2015!