Teaching

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of helping to teach a Paddle Canada Level 1 sea kayak course with Andrew Green (@drumbopiper) at the Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak Centre in the Toronto Harbour.Throughout the weekend, we worked on the usual list of foundation paddling skills including strokes, navigation, weather, risk management and kayak rescues (both assisted and solo) with success.Ask any instructor and they will agree that weather always plays a big factor in ultimately dictating your teaching schedule. Wind speed, wind direction, precipitation, and thunderstorms are all factors that you need to take into account when developing your daily lesson plan.We pretty lucky is past weekend since we were able to stick to our decided schedule even though the weather was threatening to turn really nasty both days. There was only one hour where we had to hide under some shelter waiting for a thunderstorm to approach. Gladly it decided to track south, missing us completely.This got me thinking that a good instructor really needs two complete game plans for the day, the master lesson plan and a back-up plan of things to do or talk about when you are stuck on shore waiting out a storm.
You are teaching a group of beginner sea kayakers. How can you be sure that they won't panic or get trapped when they flip over?The only real way to be (almost) sure is to practice the wet exit with each of your students. You want to be sure that when they flip over they can hang out, calmly reach forward, pull the release tab of their skirt and swim to the surface.The question as to when you actually teach throughout the day it is one that has been batted around in my little community for several years. Do you teach it right away or wait until later in the day? There are practical issues like cold water, access to changing facilities, time management and the students fear to take in account when you schedule time for it.
I found a really interesting article in the New Yorker written by Malcolm Gladwell. You know, that guy who wrote The Tipping Point with the funny hair? No journalist can describe him without describing his hair...In Most Likely to Succeed, he writes a great article about how do you hire when we can't tell who's right for the job? He teases out two examples, the college football player looking to get into the NFL and your basic teacher. How do you we know they can both do the job from a basic job interview?It was a good article and most of it isn't relevant to teaching or paddling any way. That is, except for a great section where Malcolm looks at what makes a good teacher more effective then a basic one. That is where he brings out a bunch of relevant points to our life as paddling instructors.
Last week Derrick wrote a small piece on his blog about why he feels that instructors don’t do a great job teaching rolling. A couple of days went by and yesterday a follow-up article was posted with some great suggestions on how we can make both learning and teaching rolling more fun. Since, I was the one to trigger the follow-up article through a comment on the first, I thought I would weigh in on the issue and talk about it from my perspective.
Tide Lesson I got back late Tuesday night from co-teaching a Paddle Canada Level 2 Instructor Course for White Squall . Since the, things have been so busy that I haven't had anytime to post anything until now. My fellow co-instructor, Graham Ketcheson and I had a fantastic time working the level 2 curriculum with the 4 students on the course. We spent the first day at White Squall and 4 days out on Georgian Bay which was nice. The weather was really hot for the first two days but kind of rainy for the last 3. I didn't mind the rain as I much prefer paddling in the rain significantly more then hot sunshine.
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