Duck, Duck, Goose! and Other Lessons for Teachers to Learn

Yesterday I took a roller-skating lesson along with my son at a local rink. I also talked my younger brother into joining us, which was quite humorous since he plays professional ice hockey. The change from blades to wheels was odd, but it didn’t prove to be difficult. Ice skates and roller skates are obviously different, but good balance and agility apply to both forms of skating. As for me, I hadn’t worn a pair of skates in about twenty years, but luckily the skills quickly came back.

Despite our previous experience (which included dozens of skating parties in the 80s), my brother and I willingly stuck with my son in the beginners’ class along with other school-age children. I got the generic label “Mom” and my brother was “Uncle.” In short, Mom, Uncle, and Son had a great time. Of course, a lot had to do with the fun inherent in skating as well as the likable company, but I also believe we had a competent instructor. When I had time to reflect later, I realized that good teaching is good teaching no matter what the subject is. It’s worth identifying what that young instructor did so well to create a good lesson.

  • He took the time to identify who his students were. He quickly learned the names of the children and introduced himself. He asked who had taken lessons in the past and began to adjust his instruction based on what we told him and what he observed.
  • He recognized the mixed levels, but he did not greatly alter his original plan. We had all signed up for the beginners’ class, and so we covered beginner skills only during group drills. However, he allowed my brother and me to speed up, practice turning, and experiment in general. He also allowed us to progress through the target skills at a faster pace. We always came back together for group drills.
  • He kept a balance between attention to the group and attention to individuals. I like how we had to do some drills in sync and some one-by-one. Feedback and encouragement were given to all.
  • He provided appropriate modeling. Unlike other instuctors I’ve observed at my children’s soccer and gymnastic classes, this young man understood the importance of explaining in words and showing the steps.
  • He mananged his time well and used appropriate pacing. The pace of the lesson varied, but it never lagged and I never once glanced at the clock until he said we only had a five minutes left. That’s a mark of a truly good lesson! Time flies when you’re having fun, right?
  • He balanced funny moments with serious ones. Safety issues were identified without joking. Instruction was given in a straightforward manner. When levity was needed to reduce anxiety, it was created. Overall, the lesson was enjoyable.  Mom, Uncle, and all the children willingly played Duck, Duck Goose! and Red Light, Green Light. In fact, I look forward to future lessons, more challenging drills, and perhaps even a round of Limbo.

Personal Note: Apologies to my brother for revealing that he actually participated in the children’s games (his teammates would surely poke fun at that), but may it prove what a dedicated uncle he is!

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