Clean Run - March 2013 - (Page 21)

© Dartmoor animal photographer Ultimate Instructors What Makes a Really Good Instructor? By Lauren Langman, photos by author except where noted Whether you are a competitor looking for the best possible instructor to take you to a new level in the sport, or you are an instructor yourself and want to be the next big name on the ever-growing seminar circuit, this article attempts to summarize the top qualities of a good instructor. In subsequent articles over the next three months, I will delve into the depths of learning styles, lesson planning, groupings, dynamics, and becoming a better teacher. without showing favoritism. Having the ability to engage and involve students whilst getting the job done is an important skill. But there is a fine line here to follow; the instructor must be able to develop this atmosphere without letting the group become too clique-ridden. The learning zone is very important and can make or break an agility class. Some people are born to teach. I’m sure that you all have met that one naturally talented instructor: knowledgeable, patient, understanding, automatically able to manage a group environment, etc. Others, however, are thrust into the teaching role at their local dog training school or are constantly striving to reinvent themselves and recreate their lessons in the pursuit of perfection; it just doesn’t come naturally to everyone. It is a challenging role, and developing the lifelong learning environment—of which instructors are an integral part— requires a willingness to learn, improve, and evolve. Good Pace, Tone, and Pitch Ability to Develop a Positive Atmosphere and Rapport A good instructor must be able to create a positive learning atmosphere and also develop a good rapport with all students March 13 | Clean Run An instructor can teach mixed-ability groups and still create a great learning atmosphere because students get to work at different levels and learn from each other; for example, one dog has great flatwork but has only just started 2x2 weaves working alongside a dog that can weave 12 poles but has poor flatwork. For me this type of instructing works because the group not only learns from me but also from each other; I become a facilitator of learning rather than simply the instructor. Pace, tone, and pitch are hugely important for an instructor. An instructor must be patient with the pace to accommodate slower learners, needy students who require attention, and students who lack motivation. Is the instructor’s voice in control? What sound does her voice make? What kind of impression does her voice make? An instructor can use all of these skills to her advantage. If the instructor knows how to vary the tone and pitch of her voice, she will be able to increase the tools in her teacher’s box. Clarity Being able to answer questions in a clear and concise way, and enjoying people asking questions, shows a confident instructor. But even if the instructor does not know the answer, there is no harm in letting the students know that. An instructor can either promise to let the students know the answer the following week or use it as group homework to find out the answer. I remember a student asking me a question in relation to reinforcement zones. I was not 100% certain of the answer, but I had a written answer for the class after having thought about it during the following week. Organization An instructor needs to be punctual and produce well-planned lessons with suitable material. For me this is very difficult because it is the most alien to my nature. 21

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - March 2013

Clean Run - March 2013
Editorializing: Would You Treat a Dog Like That?
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
Knowledge Equals Speed! Teaching Verbal Directional Commands, Part 1
Power Paws Drills: Gnarly Rears
Ultimate Instructors: What Makes a Really Good Instructor?
Can You Handle It?
Head-Turning Turns, Part 3
The 10-Minute Trainer
Busting the Myths: Set Goals? Or Just Enjoy the Moment?
Out Spot Out! Five Required Skills for Successful Distance Work
Living Room Agility: Front & Rear Crosses
Nutrition for the Canine Athlete, Part 2
Puppy Agility Games, Part 1
Training with the Stars: Greg Derrett
The Judge’s Debriefing
Foundation Jumping, Part 1

Clean Run - March 2013