Monday, September 13, 2010

The School Year Begins

First, to those of you who check this blog regularly, I’m sorry for my absence for 8 weeks. I’ll try to do better as the year progresses. Since it has been so long, lets jump right in:

As summer turned into the school year, I observed a few teaching styles that I’d like to list and comment on.

One thing I really remind myself of often is to start each day fresh with the children. If I have a really tough discipline / courtesy day with a student, it is a test of strength for me to start fresh the next day. It is, however, imperative for the growth of the student to give them another chance to do better. It is important that I not be one of those teachers that label students. I would like to hear from you on this one. Do you find this challenging too?

A second observation of late is the importance of being a little organized before I arrive in class. When I was a teacher alone, with just a few students, it wasn’t so important. Now I have larger classes, these classes run from beginners to advanced, and I have adults who want to be trained as assistant instructors. With all that happening in only an hour, a small game plan helps. Here is an example:

At the start of the week, I think about what is happening in the dojo (testing, competitions, what technology I have and have not covered lately) and I make a general game plan. If possible, I share it with my helpers. As an example I might say to them, "I need to put time into stances this week, and I haven't played fire-rope in awhile. Sound good?" Then, I make sure I have everything I need with me. Another example: "Today I'm going to do team sparring. If we finish in time, we'll exercise at the end of class."

Again, I'd like to get your thoughts on that.

On a realted note, I'll finish this blog with a quick story. Often, parents will ask me to talk to the kids about school and home behavior. Recently, I was working with a little girl on not pouting when she doesn't get her way. We talked about what pouting is. I even pretended to show it, so she could see it. Then I ask her to try not to pout this week. When her mom picked her up, and she didn't get her way, she immediately started pouting. I thought about it later, and realized I had left out one important ingrediant in the conversation - giving her a suggestion of what to do instead of pouting. The next time I saw her, I said "I was thinking that instead of pouting you could say 'I'm sad, but I'll try to wait and not pout. ok?' Try that, ok?" She complained a little. In our hour together she got a little practice. I have seen her since and she is doing better with each try. The point is that she needed a plan on what to do instead of what she was doing that wasn't working.

Another example of the same thing is seen in how I talk to the kids about not hitting or pushing other kids when they get frustrated. I say to them "Instead of hitting, this is what we should do - walk away, tell the teacher, talk it over, or just ignore them." That way this kids have a better choice to acheive what we're asking them to do. Two notes on that last example:

1. Sometimes, if I have a little extra time I play a game where we bother each other and try to ignore it, so kids can learn what ignoring something is.
2. If you think about it, the choices we give the kids are the same ones we have to learn to live with.

Well, it is a short post today, but I'm anxious to get back in touch. I'll begin m next post right away, so I'll be more timely.
Thanks for reading and sharing.