Thursday, February 11, 2016

Teaching: Stepping up, stepping down.

A couple of things have come up that made me think about teaching in different ways.

One was the animated movie "Kung Fu Panda 3", which talked about the teacher giving up his teaching position to the senior student, in order to allow the teacher to pursue higher levels of training.  The other is that my sempai (senior) in Shotokan will be taking a sabbatical, maybe permanently.  My sensei will still be there and teach the entire class + advanced workouts, but when we split the class into beginners and intermediates, I'll be given one group to teach.

Both examples are about being forced to step up.  Leaving the movie (and pandas) aside, it's hard not to think that I won't be as good as the person before me.  I want to do a good job and make people better, make them think and try and do more, but can I?  How much more studying will I need to do - do I have the time to do - in order to be a better teacher?

It's easy to not worry about it when someone is teaching you, or the class.  And it's not like I haven't taught these classes/students before when sempai has taken time off, been sick, etc.  But to think that this might be a long-term thing puts all it in a different light.

There's also figuring out how much to follow the way things have been taught and identifying your own style.  Not talking in terms of material or priorities, but things like: how much humor to use?  How many guilt trips?  How much to let things go vs. be strict?  How much talking, how much doing?  What works for the class vs. what works for me?  While I know it will be a learning opportunity for me if this is a long-term thing, it's not just about me.

So maybe you're not in a position where you teach yet, but what would happen if you were made to?  If you couldn't rely on someone to give you all the lessons you were used to receiving, could you step up, leave ego aside, and continue to take the class forward?

1 comment:

  1. I've directed student practices for a few years, not really by choice, but because I just happened to be the one who stepped up (many reasons, but not really because I actually *wanted* to be the one directing practice). Before I left, people were saying "What are we going to do without you?", but I think the group has grown enough that there are several people who are able to do what I did. It's good that I'm gone for a few months, for the group dynamics.