Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Random babbling on teaching influences

So I got my blog printed not long ago -- even though, let's be honest, I'm not about to sit there and read through the book again :) But flipping through occasionally is kinda fun. So the other day I open it to a random page and read all about Denny's discussion of how to deal with the frustration of hitting a plateau in training and even going backwards. And the difference between those who make it and those who don't lying in the ability to recognize and accept that part of the sport. hahaha some things are timely eh? Worked though - remotivated me to go ride my horse :)

hmmmm I don't like that my spellcheck flagged remotivated. Why is it ok to demotivate something but not remotivate it? Does that not point to an awfully depressing society? hahaha ok stuffing English student back in the closet. Enough of that :)

So after a somewhat unrelated conversation with a student the other day, I got to thinking about the coaches who I've had who've most influenced my teaching (as opposed to my riding). Of all the coaches I've had and all the clinics I've been to, there're still really only three that have seriously altered the way I teach. (I steal snippits from everybody of course -- there's always a different way of explaining something, or a new exercise or analogy to use... but these ones in particular). Two were, at different points in my career, instrumental in helping me develop my eye. Both by example (in both cases very good technical coaches themselves and I vulture more than my share of lessons) and by occasionally overseeing my lessons or commenting on something that seems to be not-quite-right with a student or suggesting another focus. And it's thanks almost exclusively to these two that I have what ability I do to decipher the route of a problem from its symptoms -- which then enables me to figure out a way to fix it. Definitely a critical skill. But the third coach on my list is the one that to me made the most interesting difference. Because really, I'm an academic at heart -- I'm going to figure out what's broken and how to fix it. Be it through stupid amounts of study or training or whatever. Those two coaches HUGELY accelerated the process *g* but I still believe I would've gotten there. This third coach though (who was chronologically inbetween the other two), she taught me to have fun :) It seems so simple really. But every coach I've ever ridden with has been reasonably formal in their coaching. They give the instruction, you follow it, you get better. And that's what I did when I first started working for her.

But I realized pretty quickly that her lessons were a lot more fun. Both she AND her students laughed and joked around and had a good time. And they didn't respect her any less for that -- if anything they were *more* likely to come help out around the barn etc. And so slowly, mostly w/ the little kids at first (and there were a LOT of little kids at this barn) I started to relax and actually enjoy teaching. I'd goof around with them and be silly and I figured out pretty quickly how to establish the line between having fun and getting the job done (years later N would come to refer to it as my "coach voice" hahaha which still always makes me laugh when she says it, but she's kinda got a point :) As in, yes I'm glad we're all having a good time, but it's really critical that you listen to this or whatever you're about to attempt is going to end in horrible failure *g* It's amazing what can be conveyed with tone eh?

And if I thought of it at all, I would've put it down to experience -- easier to relax when you're confident in your abilities. But most of the more formal coaches I've ridden with have far more experience than I even now. So that doesn't really apply. So I was thinking back to where that shift came and it was definitely due to that one coach; who, to be honest, I didn't learn a ton from as far as technical skills go, but as far as coaching personality I think she pretty much single-handedly evolved my career :) And for teaching theory too. I've never laughed so hard as watching her teach beginner terminology through charades! You can imagine...

So yeah I just thought it was interesting thinking through the random influences that aren't expected and how thoroughly they can change things.


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