As part of the ACA Instructor Development Workshop, we need to convey some information about the ACA.  The ACA is rich in history, hard to believe it is over 100 years old.  Most people think the ACA is just education, actually it is a great deal more as we will soon discover.  I also provide detailed metrics of the numbers of certified instructors, trainers, and educators in the disciplines that I teach.  This shows how valuable and exclusive these certifications are.  The ACA doesn't rubberstamp it's instructors and there are no guarantees we can provide (other than we will do our best to help you achieve your goals).

The ACA (American Canoe Association) is a non-profit organization that along with the SEIC (Safety Education Instruction Council) were founded to promote paddle sports via education, stewardship, and support of events/programs for paddle sport recreation. The ACA is well accepted as a leader for instructor certification. Many outfitters, organizations, and canoe clubs require ACA certified instructors to run their education programs.

What is a professional?  Sounds like a silly question, technically it is someone that gets paid for their services.  It is a surprising important concept that is taught in some of our IDW classes.  Since the SEIC is a voluntary organization and many of our instructors do this work pro-bono, it probably makes more sense to concentrate on the characteristics of a professional.

The above link is short, less than a page and well worth reading.  I will shorten considerably here:

  • Organization & aligning with a corporate vision - Definitely applies
  • Collaboration/Sharing - The SEIC enables this in numerous ways
  • Innovation & creativity - We encourage (actually specify this) in the curriculum
  • Continuous learning - Mandated  as part of the update process and co-teaching requirements
  • Self-discipline and self-study
  • Teamwork

Another way to look at this is lawyers/doctors doing pro-bono work (ignoring the fact they are not being paid); I suspect most would label them as professionals.  Let's face it, the ACA is the leading Paddlesports training body and standards organization in the US and recognized worldwide.  We have stringent and well defined standards for all of our Instructors and Trainers to ensure we are a consistent and quality service provider.

The ACA runs a very professional organization.  The SEIC (part of the ACA) builds/maintains suggested curriculum for courses at every level of skill.  They determine suitable class venues with safety always in mind.  They have developed a number of policies that help ensure quality instruction.  Paperwork is a trademark for nearly all professionals.  A good paper trail provides significant legal protection should that be necessary.  Industry "Best Practices" are adding to our guidelines such as mandatory CPR and First Aid certification.

The US Coast Guard and other organizations recognize the ACA as the premier standards body in the US for paddle sports education.  Our attention to detail enables the ACA to get grant money for special projects and hire additional staff.  These grants help to reduce our SEIC dues.

For the latest SEIC policies, please refer to: SEIC Policy Manual.

Since ACA Instructors, ITs, and ITEs are both on the commercial side and volunteers (some both), I wrote a short article called: What is a Professional?.

The process of becoming an initial Instructor Trainer (IT) is extensive.  Besides having a fair amount of teaching experience and skills, trainers need extensive knowledge of the ACA and especially the SEIC Policy Manual.  At a high level, here is the process:

  1. Gain extensive experience as an instructor over two years, ideally 6 or more skills classes with 3 at your highest level.
  2. Build your network, teach with multiple instructors to learn various techniques.  These instructors will also be helpful for your required 3 reference letters.
  3. Line up a trainer to work with and complete the IT Registration Form
  4. Complete the IT Self Study.  Part of the self study is an online exam.  The exam quizzes you on ACA/SEIC policy, knowledge of the ACA web site, etc.
  5. The office will review your completed exam and will prpvide written guidance.  Assuming all is in good order, you will be instructed to schedule your Assist ICW.  Any IT or ITE in your discipline can work with you on your Assist ICW. 
  6. Assuming all gioes well in your Assist ICW, you wuill need to schedule a Lead Teach ICW with an ITE in your discipline. 
  7. The ITE will be contacting the SEI Department to ensure they don't have any issues with your candidacy.  Make certain you have stayed current on your skills/assessment class reports - they are vital.
  8. I strongly recommend assuming as much control in your lead as your ITE permits.  You want a very active hand in recruitment, interviews, course outline development, student evaluations, etc.  Complete the lead ICW course paperwork and make certain you gather student evaluations from all Instructor Candidates - these are essential.  Here are all of the ICW forms: IT Forms.
  9. After submitting the ICW paperwork, complete the IT Application
  10. Make certain this paperwork is complete: 3 letters of recommendation, complete ICW course report with all student evaluations and instructor trainer evaluations, a course outline that covers everything in the instructor criteria, dues are current as well as First Aid and CPR certifications.
  11. Contact the SEI Department and verify all papers are in order.
  12. The Standards Committee will evaluate and the SEI Department get back to you with a decision.
  13. Assuming you passed, check to see that your new status is reflected on the ACA website.