Learning to teach takes a lot of time, patience, failure, growth, and skill to develop. It doesn’t come overnight. While some may be more natural at teaching it still requires continual practice and development. Even then you’re likely to fail from time to time.
While you can’t control every aspect while you teach you can control your responses to it. Some of the challenges when teaching don’t come from knowledge or skill based presentation, but in the management of the group that’s in front of you. Kids change daily, weekly, yearly in their development. You’ll see those changes every time you step in front of your group. One week you may have a perfect group that listens and follows your every direction. Fast forward one week and your group is utter chaos.
The challenging days can come with a lot of frustration. However, don’t be too hard on yourself. While it’s one thing to have a lesson fall apart because you came unprepared, it’s another thing to try and control what you can’t control. There are any number of outside forces continually working to distract children.
There are some things that you as the instructor can do to help refocus your group to teach your lesson for the day. Do some research on the topic as there are a variety of books on the topic. If you know any teachers ask them what strategies they use to manage their classes. The more tricks and tips you have in your arsenal the more prepared you will be to adapt.
If you’re struggling maintaining your players attention look at your approach. Often we lose kids attention when we talk too much when giving direction. It’s natural, but sometimes you can fall into the trap off too much information. My instructional classes go for 45 min, and I want to maximize every second I can. The more I talk the less we play. I also try to minimize transition time from one activity to the other. Figure out how to condense what you need them to know and get moving. This may take some trial and error to figure out the best approach. Don’t fear it, embrace it. Eventually you’ll learn what approaches work best.
Another aspect is sizing up your group. You may have an assumption that your youngest group may have more difficulty following directions. Or, you may shy away from an activity thinking they won’t be able to do it. While this can be the case at times, it’s not always. Sometimes my youngest classes can follow direction and be more engaged than the older groups. It depends on the day and how everyone is feeling and acting at that moment in time.
There is a lot to learn as an instructor, but the more you teach the more you learn. Do what you can to learn from others who are teaching. One of my favorite things is watching and learning from other coaches. I always try to find at least one thing I can take back and use to improve what I’m doing. I’m thankful to have opportunities to coach, instruct, and teach. It’s great work and impacts many lives. Keep at it and remember above all to have fun with it.