The start of a school year is the perfect time to kick off a new idea or technique. Here is a challenge which has helped me become a better teacher.
Try something you have never done before. Take an art, dance or other skill-based class-either one or ongoing. Do a new sport or game. Try an instrument from a different family than your primary or start to sing. This isn't to add to your already full plate or to make you an expert in a new field. It is to help you truly understand what it is to be a novice again. We can say we understand but until we actually do something that is new and possibly awkward we cannot fully comprehend what our kids go through since most of us have not been beginner musicians for many years.
Things which have become second nature to us are still developing in our kids. Now add a few elements in. You want to be good at this new thing. You have to do it in front of all of your friends (and possibly frenemies). You are being graded on it. And to top it off, the coach might be a little frustrated with you. The level of mental confusion, physical awkwardness and frustration can be overwhelming. This sounds like a combination of a total disaster and a situation adults would seldom put themselves in. This is what our kids go through every day in our class and probably others.
A few years ago I began running to get healthier. I am not a great runner, to say the least. What I am is very competitive and very stubborn. But even with these traits, I would often be discouraged after a difficult run or a lack of improvement. As I ran I often thought about what kind of coaching is the most helpful. Would I be able to run better if someone was frustrated with me or disappointed in my lack of preparation or effort? I thought of all of the wrong ways I had reacted to struggling students over the years and it was an awakening.
There are times when a little tough love is needed but those times are few and far between with young players. They usually know they are doing something incorrectly or if they haven't practiced. My lecturing or scolding is a waste of time. Now when I teach I work to remind myself of the struggle I feel when running (it is truly miserable) and do everything I can to be the coach I would like to have and the one my kids need now.