Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Expect the Unexpected

We have an understanding in our program: Expect the unexpected. I’m known for springing teaching assignments on junior leaders and holding surprise rank exams for those ready to promote. The idea is that students should come to the dojang focused and ready to work hard every day, because they never know when they may be considered for promotion or be asked to lead. This keeps children on their toes.

Some martial arts teachers pick my brain from time to time regarding how I handle certain types of instruction and coaching situations. I adhere to the Tony DiCicco “Catch Them Being Good” philosophy of emphasizing positive aspects first, and then offering improvement coaching toward the end.

I like to put this kind of feedback in writing (if in an email, I always copy the parents), and I encourage students to save these messages to reread during times of low self-esteem, fatigue, and frustrationto see where and how they've grown.

Yesterday I put another junior leader on the spot, and he didn’t disappoint. I thought I'd share the email (the student’s real name has been changed) that I sent to him following Monday’s class:

Good morning, Steven!

Son, you did a great job yesterday in your first teaching segment. I'm very proud of you. You were:

  • Clear in your description of how to do a back kick
  • Polite, patient, and clear again in answering your peers' incessant questions
  • Postive in your coaching feedback during the drill itself
  • Unfailingly respectful, addressing your peers by their last names. Bravo!

I loved your analogies (target shooting, etc.), and I also loved how you used your understanding of science to explain power and momentum.

Here are some things to work on for your next teaching segment (the subject of which YOU will decide this time):

  • Remember etiquette and practice your Korean: attention, bow, ready stance, etc. When you're teaching, tell your students everything (right leg back, fighting stance, etc.) or they may all do something different. You may think, "Oh, but they already know what to do." Most will. Others won't. Those students who don't know what's going on may start to feel lost and insecure. So stick to protocol and everyone will be on the same page and have the same shot at success.
  • Be mindful of your posture and maintaining a balanced stance. Your stance shows your confidence. Stand up straight and use a loud voice. Head up, chest out, shoulders back. You don't have to bark orders, but you must be loud enough for the student farthest back to hear you.
  • When students give you compliments (get used to this), a simple bow and "thank you" is fine.

That's it for now. Again, I'm proud of you, Steven. I sprung this on you (expect the unexpected) and will continue to do so throughout the remainder of your journey to black belt. You passed the first hurdle with flying colors, and I look forward to seeing you grow as a teacher and peer mentor in the days to come.

Have a great week!
Ms. Chapaty