Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What Gives You the Teaching Jitters?

I've been teaching martial arts for going on two decades now. I'm pretty comfortable in my skin when it comes to teaching, at my own dojo, at other people's dojos, even at major training events. There is, however, one thing that still gives me the teaching jitters after all these years: teaching in front of my Sensei.

Last Thursday I taught at my Sensei's dojo in Ottawa. I taught some of the ground defense concepts I've been working with and teaching my own students. Every time my Sensei would come onto the mats, I found that I would get nervous and wouldn't be my usual confident self. I've taught in front of other heads of styles before with no problems, but with Ed Hiscoe Sensei, it's different.

He remembers me from the time that I was only 16 and a lowly white belt trying Jiu-jitsu for the first time. He remembers all my awkward years as a teenager. He remembers the times when I was first learning to teach as a brand new Shodan. And it's not so much that he remembers all those things, it's that I remember all the nervousness and lack of sureness in myself associated with those times, and somehow it manages to creep in when he's on the mat while I'm teaching.

Hiscoe Sensei ended up watching most of the class I taught from the other room on his dojo video system, making the class go more smoothly for me (which I know he did on purpose). I'm sure that one day I'll get over it, but I have to say that his willingness to help me by doing that put me a few steps further in that direction because it demonstrated his empathy for my situation and that, on some level, says to me, "You see? It's only in your head." It was an effective way of conveying that message.

Are you a martial arts instructor? What gives YOU the teaching jitters? Please feel free to share in the comments section.

5 comments:

Savvy said...

I'm an assistant instructor at my school going for my black belt. Whenever my instructor is away and I have to cover the classes, I usually get jitters when I teach people older than me.

At 24 i'm one of the youngest in my school but I've also been there the longest, almost 8 years. Over time i've learned that the age issue is mostly in my head but I still find it difficult to be at complete ease teaching someone with more life experience than myself.

I came to the conclusion that everyone is a master of their own craft. Even with my age being what it is, I still have some unique experience and knowledge to offer which an older student may not have.

What do you think?

Savvy said...

I'm an assistant instructor at my school going for my black belt. Whenever my instructor is away and I have to cover the classes, I usually get jitters when I teach people older than me.

At 24 i'm one of the youngest in my school but I've also been there the longest, almost 8 years. Over time i've learned that the age issue is mostly in my head but I still find it difficult to be at complete ease teaching someone with more life experience than myself.

I came to the conclusion that everyone is a master of their own craft. Even with my age being what it is, I still have some unique experience and knowledge to offer which an older student may not have.

What do you think?

Lori O'Connell said...

Savvy,

I have a number of students that are older than me in my dojo, as much as 10-15 years older. As long as you take control and don't let the age difference faze you it, they'll just follow your lead. And if it does still faze you, just fake it till you make it. But then I suppose this is pretty much the same teaching advice for anyone who's a little nervous in some way.

Thanks for sharing!

Kevin said...

Getting jitters teaching in front of your head instructor is perfectly normal. I don't get them anymore, but I used to.

I can say, though, that if it still gives you jitters you should attempt to do it more often!

Lori O'Connell said...

I do it every time I'm invited to, but I'm only back in my home town once or twice a year or so.