Have you ever taught a class where everyone seems completely focused, the energy level is high, and at the end of the class you know that everyone is leaving stronger, healthier, and in a better state of mind? Wouldn’t it be great if every class was like this? Remember the phrase: Focus Follows Fun. It is the first step in making every class a great class...
When people are bored, they tend to lose focus. The trick is to keep them mentally, physically, and emotionally engaged throughout the entire class. This is not a new concept, but it can be easy to forget. As you consider how to energize and focus your class by making it fun, remember, there’s a difference between having fun and being funny. Having fun doesn’t necessarily mean people are laughing and giggling. It doesn’t mean your class has to be filled with games. It just means that you provide a structure and leadership that is enjoyable for your students. While the methods may change based on age or rank, the driving principle remains the same: make each and every class unforgettable! Now how can you make it a reality?
Let’s review some steps that will help you keep your classes enjoyable for all.
Step One: Before Class, Always Have a Plan
Does this sound at all familiar? The instructor steps out onto the floor, bows in the students and starts the warm-up without having a clue as to what he or she is going to teach to the class that day. This is more common than it should be! Once in a while, this instructor might end up teaching a fun, energizing, and focused class. More often than not, however, they will tend to fall back on old standby drills that the students now know as well as the instructor. The result is most always an average class, at best.
On the other hand, if you plan the class beforehand, your energy and enthusiasm will be high because you’re excited about delivering your well-planned material to your students! We all know that energy and enthusiasm are infectious. Your focus on your plan, your energy, and enthusiasm is transferred to your students resulting in a great class where everyone finishes focused and energized. This sets the stage for the desire to return for another similar experience, and reduces attrition!
Step Two: During Class, Have the Right Mental Attitude
While it is important to prepare beforehand, it is also important to have the right mental attitude during class. The moment you step on the mat your ENTIRE focus and energy needs to be directed to your students. Whatever else is going on in your life, whatever concerns you have, whatever challenges you’re overcoming are irrelevant to those students who are paying for your time and attention. They rely on you for energy, focus, and enthusiasm; they do not want to hear about your problems. Every action you take should convey the message that this is where you want to be and this is what you want to be doing. Reciting the instructor’s creed can help put you in the right mental state: “I will teach this class as if it is the most important class I will ever teach. I am patient and enthusiastic. I will lead by example.”
Step Three: Don’t Let Distractions Change Your Focus
Inevitably, in every class there will be some distraction: an overactive student, a new prospect standing impatiently next to the mat, unhappy parents, or some other situation. Whatever it is, don’t let it reduce the focus, energy, and enthusiasm in the classroom. By accepting that these events will inevitably happen from time to time, you can reduce or eliminate the potential distraction that comes from them. Keep a clear vision of what you intended for the class. Make whatever adjustments are necessary and keep the class energized and focused. Remember, "The secret of true concentration lies in the acceptance of the endless distractions."
Step Four: Deviate When Necessary
Every now and then, something happens during class that forces you to change the direction of your class. In other words, there are exceptions to the tip we just covered! While the goal is to set a plan and execute that plan, sometimes circumstances will dictate a change. Use your good judgment to determine when it is appropriate to stay on course or chart a new one. It might be a minor emergency that calls one of your assistants off the floor, or it may be that you see some aspect of your student’s curriculum that needs extra work. Or, perhaps your class plan isn’t going as you thought it would. In these instances, allow yourself to make the correction, but keep the focus and energy of your students front of mind.
Step Five: Track Your Progress
At the close of each day, make a note of how the classes went. What drills worked? What drills didn’t? It is amazing how quickly a file of great class ideas and drills will build up. The more you track your progress, the easier planning for great classes becomes.
There’s a great phrase that sums up the attitude we’re looking for with teaching, "Always be happy, but not satisfied". This refers to the importance of striving to being better each day, while enjoying the process. You should be happy with your skill level. Happy with your teaching skills. But you should never be fully satisfied with either. The biggest room is the room for improvement. “Being satisfied” implies that there’s no longer a reason to improve. Focusing on these five steps will help ensure that each and every class you teach is focused and energized!
We have another great read for you about student retention! To download our free ebook, "Creating Special Moments: A Retention Case Study," CLICK HERE.