board break

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pet rocks, good... Pet students, bad

There was a little girl who road my bus when I was a kid, and she was picked on by some of the older kids.  One day, they threw her sweater out the window.  Everyone's parents got called and we all got in trouble.  I wasn't too worried since other people were the ones who picked on her, so imagine my surprise when I got the "I'm very disappointed in you" lecture from Mom.

Turns out that I should have helped that girl, instead of standing by.  "But Mom, she's weird." (Good answer, right?)  So with her typical wisdom,
my mother gave me the most important lesson a future instructor could have.  She told me that everyone has something about them that is easy to like, just sometimes you have to look harder to find it.  She also told me I had to sit with that girl on the bus for a whole week.  I guess she wanted to be sure I had time to find something nice.

We don't have to be best friends with our students.  In fact, it's a very bad idea to be "friends" with them at all, but that's another post.  We do have to be able to find the good technique, the good attitude, the good effort that is present in everyone.  Too often we send most of our attention and praise to the students who may have an easier time fitting in with our standards.  Anyone who isn't already on that level may be discouraged from making an effort if they aren't getting feedback.

When an instructor shows favoritism, it sends the message that some students are more important than others.  We have to be consistent in how we treat every student, in order to maintain our own integrity and that of our martial arts style.  Our status as instructors can be used to elevate all types of students.  If we push away the people who struggle more with their skills in class, we fail to challenge ourselves as instructors, and we fail to meet the needs of the students who could most benefit from martial arts.

I can think of several students who started out with very little "natural" talent for martial arts, who then became outstanding Black Belts and even instructors.  I'd love to hear your success stories, the ugly duckling stories that are in your academy.  Anyone can turn an athlete into a Black Belt... who did you really help?

No comments:

Post a Comment