I like to think that I’m a pretty good swimming instructor – I give the children the attention they need, I have plenty of swimming knowledge and understand what it’s like learning to swim (competitively or not). But some lessons I walk in dreading how certain kids will behave or ruin the class for others. I would come out afterwards with steam coming out of my ears ready to complain to myself in the car journey home.
One training session I had a group of about 15 children aged 11-12 and there was just one troublesome child that would always play up. He just loved all my attention all the time and it used to infuriate me that I was being forced to spend more time with him than the other children, I never wanted it to be unfair on anyone.
The main thing that concerned me about all this was what was the reason behind the misbehaviour – was it because I was a bad teacher or was he generally just misbehaving and attention seeking?
So one evening I decided rather than making this 12 year old boy wait for my attention and cause total chaos amongst the other swimmers, I would try things a little differently. If it was because I could improve my swimming teaching then I would definitely do anything to improve.
I decided I would get rid of as much standing time as possible and make the most of the pool time I had available. Children need to move constantly especially the boys and giving them those extra few minutes here and there could add up to a lot of metres and massively improved swimming.
I started to check more often that they children were understanding the training sets exactly and was always asking for feedback from them too not just me doing all the talking. The more they felt involved the more their swimming performance was improving.
Every time something great happened in my swimming lesson I would high-five them (which the swimmers honestly loved and got so excited about) and get underwater applauses going for anything that stood out. I also started to give them scores out of 10 based on their behaviour, attitude and swimming training at the end of each lesson so they would want to out-do their swimming next time. The children always wanted to be seen as the swimmer doing the best in practice so they always were striving to be the best swimmer in the lane, getting the most high-fives and highest scores!
So for you swimming teachers out there, I totally understand that there is nothing more frustrating than your swimming class not listening to what you say and misbehaving! But just think…
- Can I minimise down time and standing time?
- Do my swimming class feel involved in the lesson?
- Do they always understand the sets or could I check that a little more?
- Do I always give constructive feedback?
- Do I praise the swimmers enough?
By asking these questions regularly, it’s a small analysis of your teaching skills that could massively improve the atmosphere in your swimming lessons.
But on another note it could just be a naughty child!
With thanks to CTD 2005 for the banner image.