This week’s blog post is about program evaluations. As a Sail Canada instructor and a Sail Canada affiliate boating school, there are policies and procedures that I need to make sure I implement and follow. All of the courses that offer a Sail Canada certification have specific curriculum and guidelines on what must be taught and what level of abilities my students should have upon completion of their course.
I take great pride in offering Sail Canada courses and I try to help develop and improve the curriculum for our courses as I can. For instance, I recently participated in a team teaching course where we created a new course and curriculum (Spinnaker Standard) for Sail Canada. It was great fun and it also made us all really think about the goals of the program and how to convey that to our students.
As a Sail Canada instructor I must maintain a certain level of first aid accreditation as well as participate in annual continuing education courses. It is up to us to grow our teaching repertoire. I have to provide copies of my certificates each year which are posted to my instructor profile with Sail Canada. I think this is an important step because it is very easy to just fall into old habits and not take your teaching to the next level.
There are some shortcoming with the sailing school model in my opinion as I do not believe there is enough oversight or quality control of schools or instructors. I have heard many stories from students who have taken a course that was advertised as one thing, but they did not end up with the product they thought. This is not unique to Sail Canada and I find it frustrating as it damages the industry as a whole. I have even had students complain that their instructor was unprofessional, uneducated in all things sailing, and in one instance, completely drunk the entire course. That is just bad form and bad for the rest of us trying to offer a professional experience.
I believe that program evaluation is an ongoing process and something that helps us improve our programs. It forces us to constantly review what we are offering, how and if we can make it better. I have definitely discovered the benefit of feedback from my peers and my students to help me make sure that I am on the right track and that I can make Sail Nelson a successful little sailing school.