Two Magic Words…

Have you ever been in the middle of giving an explanation while teaching basics and a hand shoots up with a totally random and unrelated question, like…

“Sensei, can we play [insert favorite karate game here] ?”

If you’ve ever taught teens or kids I’m sure you’ll know what I’m talking about…

For years every time I was interrupted like this it would cause my train of thought to derail and slam into the side of my head into a fiery burning wreck. And as I would pull my thoughts from the mental wreckage I would feel several different emotions.

I would be ANNOYED I was interrupted with an unrelated question. I would be CONFUSED as why this student asked that question at that time. And I would be FRUSTRATED because the momentum I had gained in my explanation had come to a sudden halt.

There were times when I’d answer with “Please focus on what we’re learning right now. It’s not time for games, it’s time for karate.”

And other times I’d say, “Do we give black belts for being good at games or good at karate? Ok, so please focus right now.”

And sometimes I probably even answered with a simple and stern, “NO!”

All of these negative-based answers quash your students request and send a pessimistic response to your class. And when that happens the energy of your class takes a turn for the worse.

However,after literally teaching thousands of classes I learned how to handle these interruptions. Now I simply say 2 magic words.

These 2 magic words neither commit you to the request, nor do they deny your students hope.

These 2 words have the power to create anticipation, generate curiosity and bring out the best in your students because they know there MIGHT be a chance for a reward later, if they TRY NOW.

The two words are…

“We’ll see.”

It’s very simple really, but don’t underestimate the power of these 2 words when used in the right way.

Because you’re not saying “NO” you won’t destroy your kids’ HOPE they might play a game later. But if you flat out say “NO”, all hope is lost. Then there’s a good chance that student WON’T work hard without reward, and possibly the rest of the class will follow suit.

However, “We’ll see” allows you to keep your options open. If you have time at the end of class, sure you can go ahead and play the game as a reward. If there’s not enough time, then there’ll be no repercussions from your kids because you haven’t told a lie.

Next time you get interrupted with a random request for an unrelated game or activity try this for yourself…

Will it work for you?

We’ll see…

– Jason

2 thoughts on “Two Magic Words…”

  1. i hope it will as from new year,I have been having these disruption where the kid calls sensei,sensei can we play games or a comment like sensei I have a new puppy at home you imagine how it irritates.

  2. Yep, I know exactly what you mean.

    When I get those unrelated comments I nip it in the bud before it turns into a 5 minute story.

    When I hear "I have a new puppy and blah, blah…", I quickly say, "That's awesome, can you tell me the rest after class?"

    This is a good way to deal with it as it tells your student that you *would be happy to hear* what they have to say, but it's just that you can't do it now because you're teaching class.

    Contrast this to "Quiet please", "Shhhh!" or something similar and you'll find that it's a far better approach because it keeps your student in a positive frame of mind, rather than putting them in a negative frame (from them getting in trouble for talking).

    This is really important because when kids feel good they'll perform well. When they feel bad they won't!


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