Teaching martial arts (especially to the younger age group) started out as volunteering, then it became a hobby, and it is a passion of mine. I started helping out in classes when I was eight years old, giving high-fives and holding pads. Since then I've learned a lot about being a teacher, but even more about being a student. Because of this, I decided to journal about the most valuable things I've learned so far from teaching little warriors (age 3-5) and warrior juniors (age 6-8).
I have learned to communicate. Not just with my students, but with other teachers, helpers, and parents. For the longest time, I was terrified of speaking in front of a group of people, it was one of my greatest fears because it made me so nervous. Since I started teaching and working with people, it became easier. I had no trouble doing 'mat chats' to groups of students, and soon I got over that uncomfortable feeling. Besides just talking to people, I have learned about what to say to people in different situations, how you would word something to say to a four-year-old different from a seven-year-old. This includes learning how to get people to talk to you, specifically the younger kids, to help them beak free of their timidity.
I have learned to stay positive. This is something we have talked about in instructor meetings in the past, instead of pointing out everything a student is doing incorrectly, you try to use twice the amount of compliments as criticisms. This is especially hard, but over time, I have learned/am learning to word criticisms in a different way surrounded by lots of positive encouragement.
I have learned that things will never go exactly according to plan. I remember one summer when I was ten years old, I was so excited because BSBN John ("Teacher John") had asked me to make my own class plan and teach it to one of the warrior classes that day. Of course I had each drill planned out in minutes and groups- and as soon as class started, that plan flew out the window. And yet, the kids ended up having a great time and we still got through most of the material by the end of the class. That day I discovered, and have rediscovered many times since, that you cannot control everything- it's impossible.
I have learned to multi-task. This is especially true when you set up the students you're responsible for into different groups. You have to watch all the other groups while helping each one to make sure that a) they understand, and b) they are safe. This is a skill I am still mastering, and probably will be for a long time, because it changes so drastically.
I have learned to be confident. And not only to feel confident, but to look it as well. I make little mistakes at least once a day when I'm teaching where I stutter while explaining, or suddenly forget what I was going to say next. It has taken a long time, but I have learned to recover from those slip-ups by staying calm and projecting confidence.
I have learned to never, ever give up. Not just on myself, but on others. For example, something we talk a lot about with the warriors is focus, so that even if they don't quite have the physical technique yet, they have the tools to learn it. There have been many instances where my patience has been tested to the limits by students losing their focus, but I have found that by keeping a cool head and just keep doing my best to help them, eventually they get it. It can take days, or weeks, or months, but eventually they'll get it.
Along with that, last but certainly not least, I have learned to be amazed. Amazed by the focus, by the talent, by the respect, by the enthusiasm, and by the perseverance of these warriors.
I can't wait to learn more from the amazing experiences yet to come! -Taylor