Sunday, June 17, 2012

Common Teaching Mistakes - Part 2

In the previous post we talked about over coaching, talking too much and bragging. Here are some more general top teaching mistakes.

Yelling/complaining/humiliating
“What is wrong with you, do you know how many times I’ve told you to {insert corrective admonishment}?” So, how exactly would this approach build self esteem, confidence, or otherwise motivate anyone? I know teaching can be frustrating, and everyone (mea culpa, I’m afraid) succumbs to temptation to blame the receiver rather than the sender (um, cough, cough, whistle innocently).

If you find yourself admonishing your students more than rarely, maybe you shouldn’t be teaching. If you’ve ever taken a college level math class you know that doing something well doesn’t mean you can teach.

Time is on your side. Have patience, stay calm, focus on the basics, correct one or two key mistakes, and remember that positive reinforcement is much more powerful than condemnation.

Here’s a key: Hurtful Doesn’t Help.

Avoiding Repetition
You call the class to execute a technique (say Low Block); and you proceed to march them across the room, whereupon you have them turn around. All in all each student did maybe five Low Blocks. Now, do you have them do more Low Blocks or do you move to another technique?

It is repetition that creates muscle memory, builds near-instinctive response capability, as well as building muscle tone, strength, and endurance. It is also the single most important factor that yields improvement. Five Low Blocks in a class is not going to improve anybody.

Trying to cram too many techniques into one class is counterproductive. Simplify your lesson plans (you do have a plan, right?), and focus on fewer things, with more time given to repetition. Don’t worry about boredom; as they were already bored doing five Low Blocks. Seriously; end each class with something enjoyable and no one will remember the boredom of the first 40 minutes.

Here’s a key: Repetition, Repetition, Repetition.

Class is Boring
But you just said...!!

To be clear, what I just said is that no one will remember the boredom of the first 40 minutes. In each class you have, easily, 40 to 50 minutes where you can grind the little puppies into sweat puddles of fatigue, moisture, and loathing for your genetic composition.

Forty blissful minutes of dutiful execution of commands to lower their stances, quicken their movements, raise higher their kicking, and smooth out their movements. After a brief period of stretching and warm-ups, start on their basics and push, push, push.

Then with 15 to 20 minutes remaining change into something less physically demanding, but allows them to leverage the earlier training. If you’ve been grinding them with fighting drills, have them spar (most martial artists love to spar).

If you’ve been pounding them on basics, have them end with running, flying side kicks. Even the students who struggle with this love the practice.

Here’s a key: Work First, Then Play

Well, that's a start. If you have some other favorite teaching mistakes, let me know.

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