Saturday, November 3, 2018

I miss teaching already

I've been teaching the Saturday class at our dojo since August 2016.  I blogged about my reasons for deciding I needed to teach, and my experience teaching my first class, here

It's time for a change.  I've decided that I want to recover some of my Saturday mornings for a while, which will free up some of my Mondays and Thursdays, so I've requested that someone else take on teaching the Saturday class for a while.  This will commence in mid-December, and I find myself missing it already.  I have learned a lot during my tenure as teacher -- so much so that I hope to come back to it someday, "god willin' and the creek don't rise" (and my knee holds up). 

I guess I've always approached my teaching the way I approach my Aikido -- with a spirit of curiosity and experimentation.  It's still amazing to me how much I learn when I'm not training, but rather looking around the room while other people practice, with the thought that they're expecting me to have something to offer on the subject.  As I've said plenty of times off the mat, I never cease to amaze myself at the opinions I have. 

Teaching is a really great way to hold your own learnings up to the light and see if they have any cracks in them.  They usually do.  I've learned that the toughest Ukes are often the best teachers.  I've learned that humility is a necessary ingredient to learning, but so is confidence.  While I've always learned 80% of what I know by being Uke, I've now learned that showing someone how to be Nage is just as enlightening.  There's nothing like seeing someone "get it" based on something you did or said.  I will miss that.

I started playing music during my class at least a year ago.  I chose music that was specifically designed to enhance focus -- either from focusatwill, or the Taiko drums station on Pandora.  I know this is extremely nontraditional, but I always liked the vibe it created in class, including the ebbs and flows that organically found themselves onto the mat from the music.  I don't think anyone else does that.  I will miss it.

I believe that being a good teacher for any individual student means being striking a balance between consistency and flexibility, rigor and spontaneity, statements and questions.  On the one hand, it's critical for a teacher to be able to show the core techniques with laser focus, to minimize the student's doubt as to what's expected of them on a test.  This is especially true at a dojo like ours, which has no "higher body" or outside affiliation to "keep us honest."  On the other hand, and as we discussed in class today, the higher your level of understanding as a student, the more it's possible to focus on key higher-level concepts even if the nuts and bolts look different.  I plan to advance my own Aikido with that in mind.

finally, I am infinitely grateful to all those who gave up their Saturday mornings to spend them with me on the mat.  It's such an honor.  You know who you are.  I know you always had other options.  To think that you made the conscious choice to listen to me babble as we practiced the same old stuff and tried new stuff, is very humbling.  I hope you took away some good basics, opened your minds a bit, rounded off some corners, learned to love the mat, and had some fun. I will miss bowing you in and out.

Domo Arigato Gosaimasu

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