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11 Teaching Principles

  1. Unconditional Respect...
    • Respect must be unconditional or trust and security is lost.
    • ALWAYS maintain respect regardless of the other party's behavior.
    • NEVER: embarrass, humiliate or compare
    • SPECIAL MENTION: Do not tease; Teasing is a SUBTLE, more socially acceptable form of dominance or one-upmanship. Teasing is like WALKING ON THIN ICE: you do not know you are in danger until too late. There are numerous examples of well-meaning teasing which hurt a child's feeling and no one even guessed it. "I was only teasing" has been a defense uttered by too many teachers or coaches.
  2. Keep the KIDS SAFE...
    • Lack of vigilance is the #1 cause of accidents.
    • Most accidents are preventable. Repeat: MOST ACCIDENTS ARE PREVENTABLE.
    • Maintain 100% VIGILANCE at all times.
    • Repeatedly recite the safety rules of your venue.
    • CONSISTENTLY ENFORCE the rules.
    • Keep your students in your LINE OF SIGHT. Arrange your spotting or stations or pathways so that your group ALWAYS stays in your line of sight.
    • Always OVER-DO safety apparatus (matting, etc.).
    • It is YOUR job to monitor and ask unauthorized visitors to leave the venue (parents, non students). Safety, safety, safety comes first.
    • Establish, stress and enforce safe traffic patterns within the venue.
    • Enforce the WALK, DON’T RUN rule.
    • Teach SAFETY AWARENESS to the children. When EVERBODY is 100% safety aware accidents will be reduced.
  3. Clearly Communicate Expectations...
    • Assume nothing
    • FACT: failure to CLEARLY state your specific expectations WILL cause problems, as children will GUESS at what they THINK you expect and they WILL GUESS WRONG. The preceding fact is INEVITABLE: do not test it.
    • One mark of a skillful teacher is one who stresses their expectations at the VERY FIRST MEETING.
    • It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to clearly state your expectations UP FRONT.
    • PRECISELY say what you expect regarding:
      • social behavior
      • work ethic/pace
      • attention span
      • listening habits
      • eye contact
      • manners
    • This above wisdom applies in ALL leadership positions.
  4. Catch Kids Doing Things Right...
    • A teacher’s attention is a form of a reward to a child craving attention.
    • The attention you show when you praise is a strong incentive for the child to repeat the action which stimulated the praise.
    • Praise what you want repeated.
    • General good rule: focus on, and praise the PROCESS of learning. Let the results belong to the child: “GREAT EFFORT”. “I was impressed with your concentration.”
    • When results are slow or not present, PROCESS is the ONLY thing you can praise but that’s OK. Remember, what gets praised gets repeated and improved process always leads to improved results IN THE LONG RUN.
    • Teachers who focus on TGW (things gone wrong) are less effective than teachers who catch kids doing things right. Their class atmosphere is stifling also.
  5. Discipline with Natural Consequences...
    • Kids need to feel in control of themselves. Oppress this and you give energetic, willful kids no recourse but to rebel.
    • Natural consequences are the naturally occurring effects of a choice of action. The natural consequences of a child forgetting his lunch is to go hungry.
    • The natural consequences of a child going to bed too late is to suffer through being tired the next day. Natural consequences = real life.
      • Anti-social or insolent behavior=push ups.
      • Anti-social or insolent behavior=privilege of belonging/participating removed (for 1 minute, 5 minutes, the rotation, the day, permanently).
    • It is CRITICAL that the child be allowed to take their CHOSEN course of action without too much interference. Otherwise it is ‘token’ choice, not true choice. Try not to appear too vested in their choice or they will sense it and push your buttons. You must learn to DETACH from the child’s CHOICE at the same time you LOVE the CHILD. Yes, a teacher CAN care about a child at the same time they allow the child to suffer the pain of a bad choice. That is how real learning takes place. Too many teachers and parents cannot bear to see hurt feelings but yet they will yell and threaten and coax and cajole, damaging the RELATIONSHIP. This does not make sense.
    • Five Critical Steps to Disciplining with Natural Consequences:
      1. Explain IN ADVANCE the behavior and work ethic you expect.
      2. Explain exactly what the natural consequences will be if they choose your course or another course.
      3. Do not try to coax or cajole behavior. Allow true choice.
      4. Be 100% 100% 100% prepared to enforce the consequences you have previously stated. Never threaten: i.e. do not point the gun unless you are prepared to pull the trigger.
      5. Allow natural consequences (pleasant or painful) to be the teacher. As the child is suffering the pain of natural consequences you, as teacher, can remain available to empathize with the student’s pain. NO ANGER, NO STRESS. NO DEFENSIVENESS. You are neither a good guy nor a bad guy. You are a warm, tough and fair teacher – one who is merely doing his/her job, implementing what is right.
  6. Be Enthusiastic...
    • Kids learn more and have more fun in an ENTHUSIASTIC atmosphere.
    • Enthusiasm is CONTAGIOUS. So is the LACK of it.
    • Like a snowball, the kids will feed on your enthusiasm and you on theirs.
    • It is YOUR responsibility to set the snowball in motion, no one else's. If your kids lack enthusiasm, LOOK IN THE MIRROR.
    • Even on those days when you may not feel your best you must KEEP PERSONAL PROBLEMS OUT OF THE CLASSROOM.
    • Class is the HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK for your students and you have a moral responsibility to be ‘on’ EVERY week.
  7. Daily Challenges...
    • It is YOUR JOB to structure class so that every child feels challenged in every turn of every class.
    • Offer the right challenge: just out of reach but yet in sight.
    • Different children/different challenges.
    • Absences of challenge = boredom = discipline problems.
    • SOUND KNOWLEDGE of progressions is the key to effective & SAFE challenges.
  8. Daily Successes...
    • Beware: the feeling of success is individual. The child’s definition of success may differ from yours.
    • Success can come in many forms: skill master; skill refinement; work ethic; social/behavioral.
    • Successes can come by improving the PROCESS of learning as well as the results.
    • Sometimes, when learning is slow or in a plateau, the PROCESS of learning is the only place where success can be felt.
  9. Perpetual Motion...
    • Kids learn by DOING, not by sitting or standing in line.
    • Keep kids busy: idle minds = discipline problems.
    • Eliminate traditional lines: use circuits or idle activities.
    • Utilize primary stations and secondary stations.
    • SAFETY: ALWAYS position yourself so that you can see ALL the students ALL the time. NEVER design a circuit to circle behind you.
    • Circuits require PREPARATION. Have a PLAN.
    • Circuits require CREATIVITY.
    • Also FLEXIBILITY.
  10. Creativity, Variety, Fun...
    • FACT: variety is the spice of life.
    • FACT: boredom stifles learning.
    • For variety:
      1. alter the order
      2. alter the delivery
        • slow/fast
        • hard/soft
        • loud/quiet
        • animated/subdued
      3. change the drills/sub skills
      4. add new twists
      5. re-structure class
      6. add games or contests
      7. more playful vs. more serious
      8. alter warm-ups
    • COUNTER THOUGHT: A teacher must WALK THE TIGHTROPE, offering a BALANCE of CONSISTENCY and variety.
    • Some kids need more consistency, some kids need more variety: tune in and be sensitive to the specific needs of your group.
    • Think of having a CORE OF CONSISTENCY, varying everything else.
  11. Love, Empathy, Compassion...
    • Definitions
      • Love: effort devoted toward extending one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual and emotional growth.
      • Empathy: identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives
      • Compassion: deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.
    • THINK about the above definitions, especially ‘love.’ We usually think of romantic feelings as love. But consider a parent/child or brother/sister or friend/friend relationship. Romantic feelings are separate from real love. Real love is not a feeling: it is a decision to make an effort to help another grow within.
    • It is a teacher’s DUTY to love his/her students.
    • The Principle, love, empathy and compassion is FOUNDATIONAL to the others.
    • Fail in this Principle and you fail completely.
    • You cannot make up for weakness in this Principle by strengths in others.
    • THE ULTIMATE PARADOX: a teacher MUST be loving/empathetic/compassionate and firm.
    • (Paradox: two ideas which seemingly can’t be true at the same time but nonetheless are.)
    • A Story: We once had a teacher who...