Last night I moved 4 of my junior students up to my adult karate class.
My adult class is usually restricted to those 15 years and up, but I had to make an exception for these four (all are 13 and 14 years old).
The reason for the move was that 2 of them were top of the junior class and were feeling a little unchallenged. There skills are excellent and they are very capable. The reason I moved the other 2 is that they’re as tall or taller than me. And one of them outweighs me by 20 lbs! Far too big for the kids class.
Some were in for a rude awakening.
After 20 minutes I had one wanting to quit. It wasn’t that class any different to how we usually train as adults, it was the fact that there is a significant difference in the way I run my adults and kids classes.
Yikes… this was hard work all of a sudden!
I was firm with newly upgraded student and told him that unless he has a medical condition he hasn’t told me about (like being asthmatic), then he had to suck it up and break through his mental barrier of “I can’t do this Sensei”. I refused to let him quit despite his repeated requests to sit out because he felt “congested” in his words. In reality he wasn’t actually congested, but was out of breath and clearly hadn’t pushed himself to his “second wind” before.
At the same time I realized that if he completed class it was important to praise him for his effort. It was important for him to come to the realization that he could in fact do it. And that what he perceived as his limit, was a far cry short of his actual limit.
At the end of the class I wanted him to feel as though he’d been challenged and yet had gotten through it. I wanted him to have the feeling of achieving something he didn’t think possible, and to link that feeling to pleasure (the praise and sense of achievement).
Had I let him quit and sat him out of class, or had I pushed him further than he was capable and not rewarded him with praise, his association with the Adult class would be completely different. He would have seen it as a place of pain and discomfort instead of one of challenge and achievement.
As teachers it’s critically important that we realize that each student is unique, and must be treated with individual attention to get the best results. Avoid the “one size fits all approach” and get to know your students. Know their limits, their abilities and what motivates them – then use that to elicit their best.
Once you do this your classes will be easier to teach and you’ll retain more of the students you enroll.