ISD offers a generous $1000 toward professional development annually per teacher. With most conferences taking place in Europe and the US, the amount helps defray the high cost of transportation and lodging.
I had considering attending a conference on research into the effects of technology on cognition, attention, and behavior, but felt that the stress of roundtrip travel from Dakar to San Francisco outweighed whatever benefits that I might realize from the conference.
No, the very best professional development for me can be found in the sea interning with dive instructors such as Hilda, Philippe and Daniela, and seasoned DiveMasters such as Aymeric.
I am, in the moment, 9 dives into the DiveMaster certification program. The role of the DiveMaster is akin to a classroom teaching assistant. And, like the teaching assistant, the DiveMaster provides an apprenticeship with an experienced teacher.
The point is this: as a DiveMaster, I am an apprentice, a role model, and am expected to intervene in the support of student divers effectively, graciously, and without hesitation. But if I am expected to act as a role model, I must be more aware of the role I am modeling. And there’s the rub: do I really know my stuff; am I able to perform/demonstrate basic dive skills?
I’m encountering holes and bad habits in my training and experience, which is, of course, an important aspect of any apprenticeship. So while I’m assisting another, I’m discovering what I don’t know, what I don’t understand, and what I need to modify (both with respect to my personal equipment and skills).
I picked up a dead fish of the bottom while diving with a group this afternoon. My intent was to hide it, then pretend to grab it alive, wriggling in my hand. What I expected was a giggle; what I received was an admonishment from the instructor, as if to say: you are a role model, not a goofball; demonstrate respect for the environment.
What better professional development could there be: to be willing to place myself in the role of apprentice under the guiding hand of a more experienced teacher, who is willing to call me out when a bad habit is revealed.
It’s much safer not to. And there my growth ends.