One of the first teaching aides I learned as a trainee instructor was the list of class management skills. I had to memorize all ten and demonstrate them in a classroom situation. During each of my recertification seminars, these skills were reinforced and practiced. These skills show how well the instructor is conducting the class and how much he/she cares about the students. The next time you’re in class, check off how many the instructor is following:
1. Set mood and tone of class. Is the instructor happy to be there or showing what a bad day he’s having?
2. Set a direct goal. Does the instructor have a game plan for the evening and does he announce it?
3. Create positive environment. Does the instructor smile and share his enthusiasm?
4. Personal approach/individual contact. Two examples of this are the instructor acknowledging the individual student by giving him a high five or touching them to make corrections in technique.
5. Give positive feedback to questions. Does the instructor give intelligent answers to questions or ignore them? Even if the question is asked by a child and does not relate to taekwondo, how does the instructor respond?
6. Reinforce positive behavior. Acknowledge the attributes for a successful class. Is a student standing at attention, paying attention? Does a particular student assist another having problems?
7. Realistic praise. “That is the most awesome front kick I have ever seen in my life.” The student isn’t going to buy this and it’s wrong. Praise the student for improvements made from the last attempt or praise some quality in the technique.
8. Positive correction instead of criticism. “That’s a bad stance, you should try harder.” How will the student feel after hearing this? A good formula is praise-correct-praise. Praise the student for the attempt and find a good quality about the technique. Then show the necessary correction to make it better. Then praise the student for the correction made.
9. Refer to students by name. Everyone wants to hear his or her name and to be remembered, especially in a large class.
10. Promote personal victory. As an example, don’t tell the student he needs to kick head high. Rather, give them a realistic goal, and count that as a victory. Even if the improvement is kicking two inches higher than yesterday, it’s an improvement and victory for the individual.
Many of these skills are designed to promote the individual, which is one of the best attributes of martial arts. Yes, there is a team atmosphere, but the individual is the key. I can’t play football, so I wouldn’t make the team. I can’t dribble very well, so I’d sit on the bench a lot. However, I can practice hard and after a few months be worthy of testing for a higher rank. Others may have moved up faster, but that’s okay. I’m concerned with me.
These skills show how the instructor cares about the students. In my book, Beta, my heroine, Mallory Petersen, is a private investigator and head instructor in her taekwondo school. She cares about every one of her students, from the black belt who’s won multiple trophies at tournaments to the squirrelly lower rank who has problems with a basic front kick even after eight weeks’ worth of classes. She has meetings with her staff about instruction techniques and concerns about the students. She knows every one of her students by name and how each is progressing through the curriculum.
Class management skills are vital for a successful club or school. If the instructor isn’t using these on a regular basis, then these are something to pass along.