Monday, August 26, 2013

Know your learners: lessons gained from the sideline

Knowing our learners is something that I, on a daily basis, harp on about.  It's through knowing our learners, who they are, what they bring, their views, their whanau and their connections that form the foundations of positive relationships. And another thing I keep harping on about is my strong belief that our relationships with our learners is  the underlying success for effective teaching and learning. 

love those moments when you see something you believe in so passionately in action.  Tonight I drove in a slightly maniacal fashion to get Mack to her first taekwondo training with the Titirangi club. Master Mark Hall has a reputation for being a bit of a hard-arse - known to clip the odd ear and get a bit physical and is definitely lacking in the PC department.  I felt nervous for Mack. Her expectations were set high.  She had left behind her Opotiki club and a phenomenal coach who had connected with Mack on many levels. 

From the moment Mack walked in the door he made her feel welcome and despite being surrounded by lots of little people dressed in white he took the time to find out who she was. Then after checking she was insured, suggested she be in the adult group which meant sitting through an hour of the juniors training. Within 5 minutes of watching it was obvious - this guy knows his learners. 50+ odd kids and he didn't just know them by name, but knew their quirks and just how far he could push them.  Whit belts through to black belts - all at the same time, all totally engaged. 

WARM YET DEMANDING. Yep - this guy is tough and he expects a lot. But, also with the toughness is a sense of humor, and a real passion for the sport and for his students. I have a feeling his students would do anything for him - actually they were!  

There was nothing flashy. Definitely no bells and whistles in the titirangi war memorial hall. What there was were strong relationships between coach and students. Mark expects from them their very best and his students are prepared to give it because they know he gives a damn!

3 hours later and while I didn't feel the urge to Kung fu anything I did learn a little bit more about the practice of developing great relationships with our learners. 

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