GUE Fundamentals/Rec ITC

Catalina Island, CA

October, 2011


Sitting on the other side of the table with the Instructor Evaluator is an entirely different experience than being the one who is undergoing the Instructor Training Course!  I was lucky enough to participate in the October ITC held on Catalina Island and it was a lot of fun. Karim Hamza and I were working with Training Director Dan MacKay during his ITC for four future GUE instructors. Dan has a terrifically organized style of teaching that reflects his former military service. Not surprisingly, it resonates well with me also. :-) A GUE ITC is a very intense period of time with long days and requires a lot of preparation on behalf of the students. This ITC was seven full days long, with the first day being held at Hollywood Divers in LA, and the remaining days spent training on Catalina Island. 

Once you get to Catalina island, the logistics are first rate. We used the large teaching/boardroom in our hotel for our class room work and then it was only a 5 minute walk to the dive site. The water was relatively warm (for me from the PNW anyways) and clear. We spent almost half our day in the water and half our day in the class room.

During an ITC, students learn how to teach. It is expected that they will know the material inside out and sideways but the emphasis is on how to communicate this effectively to the students. GUE has a world class reputation for our training and it is obvious how this is ensured once you participate in an ITC. There is no quarter given and none asked: this is adult education and the bar is very high. 

We had four instructor candidates travelling from as far away as Portugal. Once they got into the swing of things, it was terrific to see them progress as orators and teachers. It is always surprising on the first day where the bar is set. I think a lot of students come to an ITC expecting the same sort of training they saw in other agencies and it is a bit of a bucket of cold water when they realize that the ITC is probably the hardest of all the GUE classes with no hand holding. Most settle down relatively quickly and get to work though.

GUE instructos can and do teach all over the world and it sometimes can be a bit of a culture shock to realize that students from different countries react differently to instruction. In this case, Karim and I sometimes adopted our alter egos of "Achmed" and "Bjorn" from Egypt and Sweden. :-) Long story short, if an Instructor candidate opened the door, we would step through it :-) Sometimes, this resulted in some hilarity and other times it showed how small issues could escalate to significant problems if not caught early. 

The GUE instructor making process is thorough and it was terrific to be a part of this for four future GUE instructors. :-)