Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Consistency in Daily Teaching

As we go back to school, let’s remember that even though our lives are bogged down with daily responsibilities, it is important to be unencumbered when we walk into the classroom. (In karate we say “Leave your ego at the door.”) How to do it, that is the question.
I’ve already talked about planning your work, dismissing small annoyances such as administrative details, and projecting passion without letting the passion cause you to take things too personally. So, here is one more hint: Practice projecting consistency. Be consistent in your love of the material. Be consistent in your classroom management. And please be consistent in who must follow the rules and consistent in what happens when students break the rules. A few details:
My last post was about retaining your passion in delivering material you’ve taught hundreds of time before. That can be challenging. The biggest thing I do to seem excited about teaching a basic I’ve taught many times before is that I actually get excited.  Just the other day I was teaching outside blocks to brand new 10 year old kids. It was worth the extra time I took to show the blocks as a self-defense technique. I got excited, and so did they. Even though it was less than 5 minutes of the hour – it was full of spirit that continued into the rest of the class. I didn’t notice it at the time. Sitting here now, I picture me doing the blocking system without the excitement – just repeat, repeat and I am sure that these things are true:
  • Yelling toward students to create perfection isn’t as effective as being part of the     quest with them.
  • The excitement I bring to a class will be equal to the excitement that students feel, show, and carry with them into their daily lives.
  • I am constantly aware of how long I stay on a subject on any given day (It changes with age, as I’m sure yours does. My general rule for children is: The amount of time matches their years on the planet.)
  • Tone of voice (May 13, 2010) Karateka have always used voice as a weapon. Consider that when teaching. 
  • Remember to individualize expectations for each student (A running theme, but check out May 2012).
    Young students and Older students training together can be a chanllenge
    Classroom Management is interesting because, as karate teachers, we have a tendency to say “Do what I say, or get out.” The problem I have found with that attitude is that I lose students who could really benefit from karate training if only I had a better plan on my classroom (dojo) management. Again, all these years have taught me to have the same rules for everyone. I notice that sometimes teachers have favorites and those favorites get privileges that the other students notice. It is challenging not to overindulge students with talent, while over-chastising students who lack self-control. This makes me ask myself – isn’t the quest for self-control one of the things parents put kids in karate to learn? I created a little saying that I use with my kids – “If one person can do it, then everyone can do it. If everyone cannot do it, than NO ONE can do it.” This solves small and large issues such as:
  • Students who constantly want to tell personal stories during training.
  • Students who think they should tell the other students how to improve, rather than wait for the teacher to speak.
  • Students who want to quit moving and constantly rest.
  • Students who will not hold still. (Notice I didn’t say “cannot hold still”. That is totally different. That student does exist and should be treated individually…..an exception to the rule.)
The consistency of the “everyone can / no one can” rule is wonderful because everyone understands and it is no longer personal, i.e. “You’re really making me mad, Johnny.” When I’m managing my students, I’m totally NOT mad, just following the rules of the class. It is easy and most important it is consistent, no matter how tired or distracted I am.
Consistency in who needs to follow the rules is both simple and complicated. Simple because it is everyone, even me! If I drop a weapon, I do push-ups! In my dojo, if we talk about off topic things during training, we do push-ups, and again, if I make a mistake and talk about something off topic – I do the push-ups. It is no big deal!
Students with years of experience have the Responsibility to Teach.

The complication that needs managment arises when students who have trained for years have earned the right to be in a leadership position. Here are two bullets on this subject:
1.   All the students want to be in that position. This is easy to fix with a short conversation saying “You’ll get there, have patience!”
2.   Some students don’t like to follow another student. This takes the support of the teacher toward the student-teacher. I use a quiet voice in the ear of the student that needs reminders. It is quick and efficient.
So it turns out the “technology” (be it karate, math or reading) isn’t the hardest part. What makes teaching difficult is constantly reminding myself to have a passionate delivery of the technology, consistent rules that apply to everyone, not just the kids that may be labeled as hard to handle, and a calm delivery of those rules. I laugh when I reread how easy it sounds and remember how difficult it is minute by minute, day after day. You know I like feedback, so let me know your thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent piece! I learned a lot. Much respect to you! Osu!


Talk to me.