Sunday, 11 November 2007

What Makes a Top Instructor

What Makes a Top Instructor (my comments in green)
Lendon Gray and Gerhard Politz help you answer the question

Lendon Gray
1. Flexibility is the quality that makes you successful as an instructor. It's the willingness to try things differently. (Well, this is easy. I quite like to do things differently. Flexibility..no problem either:)
2. I think goals are a basic necessity for both dressage students and instructors, but there must be a constant willingness to adjust them. (Ha, I am very goals orientated!)
3. As an instructor, you've got to present to your students a sense of confidence and a sense of humor. I know when I teach, humor helps my students get through the difficult times and not take themselves too seriously. (Humor is not a problem; confidence among riders - I can only hope so!)
4. Technical skill and knowledge of the system are all-important. I've found one of the best ways to develop your knowledge and make you aware of what you know and don't know is to teach. I don't think you really know something until you can put it into words. (Now, that is very true - I have learned So much more since I started to analyse what I am doing on a horse. However, my own level of skills is still very much behind of what I would wish it to be!! Way out from the top!)
5. To be effective, a good teacher has to be a psychologist. We all have different ways of learning. It's been proven that some riders learn by visualizing and some by verbalizing, and riding instructors often don't know enough about that. (It seems handy that I am very interested in psychology then :) Not sure if I can top B.F. Skinner but I am getting there;)
6. My approach doesn't work with everyone. We can't be everything to our students. I've sent people to sport psychologists or posture experts or T'ai Chi experts. (Well, I haven't sent anybody anywhere just yet...but I always tell people to go and read things up just in case they think I am talking nonsense...! ;)
7. We need to understand that without [the horse's] incredible generosity and willingness to put up with us, we wouldn't be doing what we're doing. Fairness to the horse goes without saying. (Absolutely agree).
8. Teachers have a great influence over their students, and it's a humongous responsibility. You gain a lot from your celebrity, and part of what you must give back is being a role model. (It might be a good job then that I am as close to being a celebrity as to riding PSG test).

Gerhard Politz
1. Making the correct assessment of his students is crucial to the instructor's success. The instructor must be able to pick one or two things in a lesson situation that will enable the student to improve and then build up from there.
2. Instructors often want to train the horse and are inclined to forget to train the rider. As a result, many riders sit in contorted, stiff, inelastic, unbalanced positions with their hands and legs in the wrong place and wonder why they aren't effective. (I think I score here as I very rarely try to start with a horse - for me the rider is the key and 99% of what they do is replicated by the horse).
3. Praising at the right moment creates thinking students. In a lesson situation, don't let the rider go away without his moment of success--even if it's only a small thing.
4. Always keep safety foremost in mind.

This article originally appeared in the Dressage Today magazine.
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