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Rotku's Educational Insanities #1

Discussion in 'BoM Blogs' started by Rotku, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. Rotku

    Rotku I believe I can fly Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    I am brilliant.

    How's that for a good start. Maybe I should turn back the clock a bit and explain my brilliantness. Or if you're just happy to accept it on face value, you can stop reading here and go to bed with the satisfying knowledge that Rotku is, to put it lightly, bloody amazing.

    About six years ago, I got a part time job teaching swimming. Most people working in the industry are students like me. In their twenties, studying this or that at university, and usually only stay three years (max), leaving when they have their silly little piece of paper in hand saying "Degree!" However, because of my various breaks, I've been in the industry for way too long, to the stage that I'm now the most senior instructor at work by numerous years (minus the two bosses).

    To properly finish the scene of this story we need to add in University. Pretty much as a direct result from enjoying teaching swimming so much I am on the path to teach Primary school kids (5 - 13 y.o.). The course I'm taking is a post-grad degree which squashes three years worth of information, that one would gain in a bachelors of teaching, into one. As a result of this busy schedule I told my bosses that I wasn't going to teach this year, but I can help supervise and manage the weekend runnings of the pools.

    One month into this teaching course and it was getting to the stage where I was just waiting for a chance to put some of the things into practice. And the change finally arose today. Call from the boss early this morning "Sam is away. We can't find cover. Can you jump in the pool and teach today?" So in I jump with the goal of putting into practice some of the ideas we're learning at Uni.
    1. Don't say what a kid can say. Instead of saying "I want three lengths of backstroke - make sure you push your tummy up, keep your arms straight, look at the roof etc etc" I should instead say "Okay, we're going to work on backstroke - what do we need to keep in mind when we're swimming backstroke?"

      This made sense to me. I did it quite often anyway, especially with the younger kids. But today I was determined to put it to use all the time.
    2. Empower the kids. Two parts to this. Let them set their own goals. So instead of saying "I want three lengtsh of backstroke" I would say "How many lengths of backstroke do you think we should do, and what do you think would make it a good set for you?" Secondly, let them evalute themselves. "How well did you do that length? Did you achieve your goals? What do you think you could have done better".

      I hated this idea. It really rubs against what I am use to. As a kid (and as an adult now) I hate when people ask me those questions. I feel like telling them You're the expert - you tell me! So I really wasn't optimistic on this front.
    3. Let them learn off each other. Get them to watch each other, pointing out each other's areas of weakness and strength; get the kids to demonstrate a drill, instead of doing it myself. Those sort of things.

      Again, like the first point, something I do quite often, but today I was determined to put it to use all the time.
    So with those three points in mind I set about my day - letting my boss know that I was going to try these new ideas, so she didn't get too pissed off at me when things went to custard.

    Class numero uno. A complete failure. A bunch of 5 year old boys - you know the hyperactive, bouncy ones. You'd ask them how far they wanted to swim and they'd give stupid answers like 100 laps. You'd ask them how well they did and they would always say brilliantly, even when they know they didn't. Not a success, this class. But I plowed on, to ruin more kids in the name of science!

    Class two! Now class two, I knew the kids well enough - had seen them swimming in the past - and it consisted of a handful of boys, around 7 years old. One of them couldn't breath in freestyle, without standing up. And his normal instructor made no effort to fix it. The others had minor faults, but could generally swim numerous laps without standing. Expecting another failure (come on, 7 year old boys are twenty times worse than 5 year olds!), I was really quite surprised at the result. Not only did I manage to get t his one kid swimming two laps without stopping, but by the end they would swim a lap and come and tell me something like the (rough) quote below.

    "Alistair, that lap wasn't so good. Can I do it again? This time I think I need to work on keeping my head on my shoulder when I breath, as that time it came up a bit and made me stand up."

    When I first heard one of them saying something like this it was a WTF moment. And then it happened again, and again, and again. I was doing something right!

    At this stage, due to the first class, I was thinking that maybe it only works on the older kids (ie. not 5 year olds), but following through with my plan to try it on everyone I used it on a 4 year old class. It was a complete success. Maybe I just hadn't got it quite right myself (most likely) or maybe it was just the certain mix of boys in the first class that didn't properly add up (less likely). What ever the reason, things just went from strength to strength after that. By showing the kids respect and letting them take charge of their learnings, the average improvement was higher than I'd ever seen before.

    It wasn't all high rolling. There were a few hard moments, when I really had to bite my tongue back. They'd explain to me how to do a stroke and get it completely wrong. But I'd let them do it their way - just not as many laps as I would have planned. Of course, their way would totally fail and I'd be thinking "what a waste of bloody time". Or other occasions you'd ask what they need to do better and they'd say something that you'd completely disagree with, but would have to go with anyway.

    Over all though, it's something I'm going to try again. I was really surprised with how well those strategies worked. Seeing some of the improvements I've been on such a buzz of excitement the whole afternoon, thinking Hell Yes, I'm Awesome! Justifiably or not, I don't care, I managed to do things in one afternoon that had taken others months.
     
  2. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    Theory working out in practice... who would've thunk!
     
  3. Rotku

    Rotku I believe I can fly Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    Oh, they do teach some strange things at Teacher's College (at least so far). Lot's of wiff-waffly nonsense that really doesn't have much practical use. So seeing such a rough gem as this hidden in the pile of ore is really surprising.
     
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