So, Sailing Florida and I, Captain Frank, held our first Instructor Evaluation Clinic (IQC) recently. In fact, the clinic ran from June 5th through the 9th. It was five long days of hard work, hard decisions, lots of stress on the part of the candidates, and I think all would agree, a good time.
The clinic encompassed four levels of certification, Basic Keel Boat (101), Basic Coastal Cruising (103), Bareboat Chartering (104), and Coastal Navigation (105). There were 4 candidates, 3 from various parts of Florida–Ron, Joe, and Rick, and one from Puerto Rico—Guillermo.
Some had previous teaching experience; Rick and Joe were US Sailing instructors and Ron works for a maritime museum on the panhandle of Florida. Guillermo was the only candidate that had not ever taught before. All brought with them qualities and knowledge that was shared and enjoyed by everyone attending including myself.
Very early in the clinic the candidates have to demonstrate single-handed sailing. This includes all maneuvers that are taught in ASA101 from raising sails to crew-overboard-recovery. They all showed me very quickly that they were experienced and accomplished sailors.
Also, they all showed me that they had not studied the ASA’s methods. As the week wore on they continued to demonstrate knowledge of the various subject matter that was assigned to them. But, most didn’t teach that material utilizing ASA terminology and methods.
In one case at the end of the lesson I told the candidate I thought the lesson was excellent. In all aspects he had done a great job, great class involvement, voice tones, use of aids, blah blah blah blah blah. I simply didn’t agree with a word he said. He taught his “students” the way that he does it. Not the way the ASA does it. The ASA teaches concrete methods that always work. Many of us as sailors do things our way. Sometimes like this and sometimes like that. Often with many variables and gray areas. We can’t teach to new students that way. We need to give them concrete techniques for doing things; methods that work every single time. He passed that lesson. Why? Because, it was a great lesson. But, he didn’t pass it until he demonstrated to me in his next lesson that he took my words to heart and ran that great class with correct subject matter and methods.
See, I do have a heart deep down inside. I recognized his abilities, told him where he fell short, and warned him (as well as his fellow compadres) that they all better hit their books that evening. He did, in fact they all did. They just hadn’t comprehended the goal of the ASA–to teach a proven curriculum with standardization from school to school worldwide. Quite frankly, they simply didn’t read the ASA materials. Once they got the ASA idea they modified their lessons and proved to me that they had what it takes.
In the end, I was able to, in good conscience, award the certifications that they sought. It took a lot of teaching on my part (not my job in an IQC) and scrambling on their part (to learn the ASA way). Some came into this challenge with good teaching skills and some learned those skills while here. That’s okay, see, it is the candidate that has raw talent and is willing to shut-up and learn rather defend the indefensible that I want to see advance on to become an ASA instructor. Those folks will carry that humility and understanding forward to their students. It is those folks that will attempt again and again, each time using a different method, to teach their students some idea, concept, or technique that they are struggling with. That, my friends, is being a teacher.
This being my first IQC (to run), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Now I know. I should expect to be really tired, to be frustrated, to teach and demonstrate more than I think I will need to, and to be very rewarded. These guys worked their asses off for five days. They never complained about extra hours we spent and they never balked at some tough criticism. I know how hard it is because I’ve been there many many times.
Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t ever give away gift certification, which was ten fold true for these guys. These four guys earned their certifications the hard way. They worked for it. I hope that they carry that forward to all their future students. I’m very proud of them and I’m glad to call them fellow ASA instructors. Job well done, Joe, Rick, Ron, and Guillermo! Job well done!