Effective Teaching – Series 3 of 3

Surrounded by indifference?

I am so thankful for your attention. I know you have a busy life, especially during the summer when swimming seems to be much more in the forefront of our minds. Thank you for both opening this email, and for your interest in www.swimminglessonsideas.com. I want swim lessons in general to be better, and this site is a small way to do that.
We’re in the final day of our 3 part series on “How to be an effective teacher.” Here is what we’ve covered so far:
1) Fill your practices with things you’ve planned in advance that move you to an end goal.
2) Each of those things you’ve planned, needs to have a goal: what are you attempting to get to with that one specific activity?
3) Have fun by playing games and providing challenges.
4) Get results by motivating your swimmers: make them want to learn themselves.
Today we are going to review the qualities that successful teachers have.
1) Let yourself shine
Let your personality flow through you while you’re teaching. Let go of your apprehensions and fears and fall back on your training. You know the progressions to front glides, you know the key things we’re looking for (head down, body flat, relaxed). Bring some imagination into your lessons and turn on that creative juice. Remember to use exciting evocative imagery to get your point across, but use your own words!  Find your “voice” and while you can use our scripts, say them with creative inflection or dramatic delivery.
2) Don’t be the waiter looking for a tip
Be kind, courteous, polite, but also be commanding, in control, and sometimes, a little “scary.” We need to always remember that we are in a potentially dangerous environment. There is a possibility that one of your participants will fall in the water and begin drowning. Safe lessons are our priority, and to achieve that we need to be listened to. Have fun, play games, be silly and engaging, but always turn that command voice on when you need to, and bring it out early so you don’t have to use it often.
The polite waiter looking for a large tip would accommodate the whims of their participants or clients. In swim lessons, we need to push our swimmers past the comfortable areas of complacency and mediocrity. Instead we need to challenge our participants by drawing them into challenging situations and while we give support, we sometimes need to be intimidating to get results. Don’t be afraid to change your tone of voice to illicit a response. Be commanding, be in charge, but also be approachable.
3) Speak well, but do it quickly
We provide scripts because they are quick, easy, and repeatable things to get a desired response. We’ve pared down that language to make it short and actionable.  We encourage you to give commands. The best teachers are concise, brief, and clear. Command, action, feedback, repeat. You’ll notice all of our swim skill sheets are designed to be quick, illustrative (pictures) concise, and provide actionable corrections.
When you are talking to your participants be funny, exciting, engaging, fun, but when describing or giving commands: Be brief, be clear.
4) YOU CAN DO IT! Encourage your participants to learn themselves.
Our ultimate goal in repeating the same scripts over and over and over and over again when we’re teaching is to enable our participants to remember them when they attempt to do them on their own. Ideally, whenever they go to attempt a front glide, or a streamline, I would love their inner dialogue to match the front glide script:
– Arms our in front of me
– Face in the water
– Push off on the surface
If we combine all the things we’ve reviewed in this 3 part course, this is the most powerful. Do whatever you can to provide that spark of interest, challenge, excitement in self learning. We want our participants to be self motivated so they seek out new ways to push themselves in the water. If we can get them to WANT to do a front glide well, we can provide them the opportunities and the feedback to promote their learning.
Encourage self learning by encouraging particpants to pay attention after they make a mistake so they can correct themselves on the next attempt. GIVE FEEDBACK more than just “Good job.”
Pair up swimmers and have them correct each other. They’ll need to think about what you said is good so they can deliver that feedback to their peer.
Avoid giving your participant the answer. Lead them to the water (snicker*) and wait for them to finish with the answer. “What are the 3 things to streamline? Look down, squeeze your ears, and….”
Thank your for spending your time learning about effective teaching, and specifically how it relates to swimming lessons! I’m looking forward to sharing more training and swim lesson specific tips with you soon!
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