What do I Want to Teach Today?
Is the sign of a new, inexperienced or unenlightened teacher.
It is the students who guide the master instructors and determine the content, not the whims and desires of the person at the front of the class.
This is a tricky concept to convey to my martial arts friends because our most basic teaching philosophy is, “This is a dictatorship not a democracy.”
Truly the best part about being the Sensei is that it is perfect for us control freaks, and I live up to that every day. However, behavior management and content management are two very different things.
In a karate class, it is totally acceptable to be a dictator when it comes to behaviors. Does anyone want to get punched in the face because someone didn’t respect the Sensei enough to STOP when she said to stop? I think not.
But the ego has to stop so the mind can control the curriculum; based on the people facing you.
Over the past 15 years of teaching my progression on this path has been as follows:
- I had no plan and classes were disastrous.
- “Why are these people so awful at karate?”
- I had a plan and stuck to it no matter what.
- “I am in charge.”
- I had a plan and got mad when things didn’t go my way.
- “How dare my students mess me up!”
- I realized the people in the room determined what would work and what would not.
- I was told, “If they’re not getting it, you’re not teachin it.”
- I bended to individuals who were vulnerable or volatile at the expense of other students.
- “They are in charge.”
- I began asking myself, “What does this group of people need from me today?”
- WE became a synergistic mechanism focused on learning.
Teaching is a process, and a PRACTICE.
Making mistakes is a part of learning for both students and teachers.