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    Balancing instructional time



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    Join date : 2013-01-22
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    Balancing instructional time

    Post by GregW on Mon Feb 02, 2015 2:49 am

    I have a "happy" problem--our club is growing.  We average about a dozen students on the mat each practice now, which is wonderful.  For the first year of our club's existence, there were just a few guys.  These guys are now getting to be green or blue belts now and they are eager to keep learning more advanced techniques.  

    Since the start of the school year in 2014, we have had added a new student a month and I've been able to successfully integrate them into the "pipeline" with the other students.  However, this past month I had a family with three students join and another family with three kids is about to join us.  I'm excited to see my dream materialize right before my eyes.

    My problem now is keeping my intermediate students engaged and moving forward while the new guys learn the very basics: ukemi, happo no kuzushi, tai sabaki, gripping, and the introductory throws.

    I thought about having two classes, one for beginners and the other for intermediates, but the thing about the club that appeals to our students is the wonderful family atmosphere we have.  My students have embraced the judo culture of mutual welfare and benefit.  I recognize that this is the most appealing aspect of the club.  Parents see it and feel good about it and the kids all want to be a part of it.  So splitting it in two seems counterproductive.  

    The white belts benefit from having higher ranks to work with and it's safer to have them work with the guys with colored belts.  I avoid having white belts work with other white belts as much as possible.

    I have a senior ikkyu and nikyu in the club, my most advanced students.  They are my "senpai" and I delegate out some duties to them.  I occasionally split the class in two and have them train parts of the lesson to the beginners or intermediates as needed.  So far, that has worked well.  One of them is getting his USJA coaching certification at a clinic next week.  However, I want to make sure that these guys are also moving forward in their judo knowledge, not just reviewing basics every week.  

    For now, I've come up with a strategy of teaching a throw in a basic form, have everyone practice it together, and then showing advanced applications of the throw or combinations and having the advanced guys practice it on each other. While they do that, the beginners can still use the time to practice the basic version.  That seems to work OK.  It keeps everyone active and included.

    The day will probably come in the next several years that we will have 80 or 100 students.  It will be inevitable that the dynamics of the club will change in that evolution.  For now, learning how to manage that is a happy challenge.  What advice do you veteran instructors have for managing a growing dojo and keeping instruction balanced between beginners and intermediates.

    Last edited by GregW on Mon Feb 02, 2015 3:27 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)

    Ser-Hong Quek

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    Join date : 2015-01-27

    Re: Balancing instructional time

    Post by Ser-Hong Quek on Mon Feb 02, 2015 7:35 am

    Divide the students into groups of say,five,with a group leader for each group.Ensure each group leader is well taught and conversant with the technique of say, a throw,. Hereafter the group leader will impart the technique to the rest of the group. As for you, you will have an overview of the progress of the members instead of spending your time running to each and every member to do the corrections of technique. Get group leader to demonstrate the throw before proceeding so each one in the team knows what he is expected to learn.

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    Re: Balancing instructional time

    Post by Stacey on Mon Feb 02, 2015 9:49 am

    At some point, you are going to have to split and offer "advanced" and "Intermediate" classes. With 12 on the mat on average now, it doesn't make sense. The, "teach basic to beginners, advanced variations to more advanced" is good. What you can also do is invite students in intermediate or advanced groups to come 15-20 minutes early, or stay 15-20 minutes later (or half an hour), and dedicate that time to their instruction. Beginners are free to watch, but the whole is geared towards the more advanced student, and the workout and learning they need, and giving them the opportunity to do a big sweat, increase their fitness, and the like.

    Once you do have a student who has a coaching cert, you can start dividing the class, and giving him/her the experience of teaching the beginners, coming up with appropriate curriculae, and the like. You can rotate who's responsible for these classes sections as more students become coaches and achieve a level of competence where this makes sense. You can even have them take the intermediate or advanced students so long as you make sure the young instructor is competent to teach what s/he intends to teach (lesson plans are helpful).

    At some point, you'll also have to break it into kids and adults. But until then, you can always have Tuesday/Thursday kids come early, M/F adults stay late so that kids can have the fun of judo games, and adults can get more serious instruction on shimewaza and the like.


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    Re: Balancing instructional time

    Post by GregW on Mon Feb 02, 2015 12:49 pm

    Great ideas. Sincere thanks!


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    Re: Balancing instructional time

    Post by DougNZ on Fri Feb 06, 2015 2:53 pm

    We have a separate intermediate class night that is for the bigger, more advanced kids in the kids class, and any smaller teenagers in the adult club. Both lots appreciate a single night where they can be with people their own age and not have to worry about little kids on the one hand or big, hairy adults on the other. The intermediates are free to do two kids/ adults classes and the one intermediate class, or do one and one.


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    Re: Balancing instructional time

    Post by r12477 on Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:42 pm

    We have a similar issue with junior and senior training at our club - The approach that we have adopted is to have juniors and seniors bow on together at the start of the night and perform the warm-up and some basic technique training as a single class.  The class will then break-up into senior and junior groups where some senior kyu grade students may help out with the junior class.  As the night progresses, the junior class with bow off early, allowing the full mat to be used for further senior training.  

    In addition to this, there is a "senior" only class on another day of the week where training is focused on techniques and grading material.

    This combination seems to strike a fair balance between maintaining the "family" nature of our club and ensuring that senior students have adequate time and opportunity to train more advanced techniques.

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