photo courtesy Mesquite Groves Aquatic Center

Mesquite Groves Aquatic Center

Chandler, Ariz.

The Mesquite Groves Aquatic Center in Chandler, Ariz., sees approximately 2,000 students in its swimming courses each year. As such, management always looks for ways to improve its instruction.

The team seems to have landed on the magic equation for the facility. This three-part formula for ongoing training builds on its base as an American Red Cross provider utilizing the Water Safety Instructor program to teach and certify new instructors.

Once certified, instructors take part in bi-weekly in-services mid session, daily wrap-up sessions after lessons, and the Good Instructor video series.

Held mid-session, the bi-weekly in-services generate feedback and resources that instructors can apply when teaching the following week. Instructors also can use the in-services as something of a debriefing session, bringing challenges or questions to the discussions and using feedback when preparing for the following week.

Drills are chosen to strengthen skills that the instructors themselves may find challenging, providing the opportunity to discuss what works well and what doesn't and learn from other instructors. "By coming together, instructors work with each other to find unique solutions to helping participants learn specific skills,” Mesquite management says.

During the daily wrap-up sessions, managers take time after lessons to talk about successes from that day and goals for the next. They can address challenging participants, along with skills or games that went well. "Instructors have commented about how much they appreciate the time with management and other instructors, and how much it builds their confidence,” the facility team says.

Finally, the team has built a library of videos called the Good Instructor series, which it uses as a tool to demonstrate effective problem-solving, skills teaching and model instructor behavior.

The staff filmed instructors at work, then gathered to watch the videos and discuss successes and areas for improvement. “Instructors really took to this method of learning and expressed that it was a great way to see themselves teach, and that they gained value from this perspective,” management says.

Some of the popular topics were combined to create a how-to video for new instructors, those teaching a certain session for the first time, or to help strengthen a weakness.

The series is categorized into beginner skills, intermediate skills, advanced skills, “Good Instructor” topics, and “Fix My Stroke.”

“We kept the categories broad for easy access and application across the thirteen levels offered within the city learn to swim program,” the team says.

The team even created an app to help instructors quickly find the best videos for their needs.

With the Good Instructor series, customer satisfaction surveys of parents have showed 98% satisfaction with the instruction.

The series’ effectiveness expanded beyond the Mesquite Groves Aquatic Center. The Association of Aquatic Professionals has featured the series in its newsletter, resulting in tens of thousands of views on YouTube.