Not just ticking boxes

When I did my teacher training (PGCE) over 20 years ago, we were encouraged to plan our lessons to the minute. To set out our objectives to the students at the beginning of the class and to summarise what they had hopefully learnt at the end. All of this is important, and yet through this admirable meticulous planning I think that sometimes, something gets lost, perhaps forgotten. That is the very people who we are going to teach. Our students.

You see, as we are focusing so intently on our lesson plans, we are perhaps seeing the lesson through our own eyes. We are imagining how we are going to teach it. How we are going to get our points across and how we are going to make ourselves understood so that boxes can be ticked.

Through many years of experience I have come to realise that this isn’t the way.

When I blog I use my own voice, but as I write I imagine the reader. I think about how they are receiving my words and what it will mean to them. I try to put myself in their shoes as the receiver, rather than concentrating on myself as the giver, the planner, the font of the knowledge. I took the same approach when writing my book. I wrote it as if I was the consumer, which tragically meant laughing at my own jokes!

When I teach my Taekwon-do classes, I see every student as an individual. Everyone has a different goal. Even those students who are grading for the same belt will be approaching it in very different ways. This is why it is so important not to just tick the boxes. This is why meticulous planning must remain flexible and it is why Instructors must approach the lesson from the student’s viewpoint and not just from the point of view of what they want to get across.

This approach, although it sounds sensible and obvious, actually takes a flip in the Instructor’s head. It probably takes confidence that perhaps comes from experience. It means that every time I address a student, I am trying to think about what I am saying from their point of view and not just thinking that what I am saying is imparting great knowledge.

Each student hears things differently. Each student walks in to the dojang with a different agenda. No student fits in a perfect square box. When I take the time to immerse myself into each of my students’ heads, then I know that their goals will be reached and their individual boxes will be ticked.

Photo credit to Radnor House



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