Purple Belt Requirement
21 September 2001
There is an adage that says something like “you don’t really learn something until you have to teach it.” I’ve found that it’s true in any circumstance including Tae Kwon Do. In fulfilling the teaching requirements for this rank I’ve discovered that my understanding of each technique I’ve had to teach has grown. When I’m working with a student individually I find that I learn from their questions and observations; a different perspective adds to my own insight. One of the things I believe it’s important for students to understand is that teachers are constantly learning and that teaching is a process. Hopefully this is what I can offer the student I’m teaching, a way of understanding. There is a give and take involved that is extraordinarily beneficial to me and I hope, to the student. To me, this is teaching in its most rewarding form, simply focusing on helping someone to do something better.
The part of teaching that I’m most uncomfortable with is having to do this for more than one student at a time. It’s a challenge for me in any environment to watch students simultaneously, to juggle the needs of several students at once, to plan a class, and to constantly adjust and monitor the lesson for several students. Further, I’m so new to the study of Tae Kwon Do and so much I don’t know that is beyond my skill and experience at this point. This is the area I need to learn the most about, and not just in Tae Kwon Do, but in other situations.
What I’ve learned from teaching overall is patience. Each student learns at their own pace in their own way. The key for me is to figure out how they learn and to feed the lesson in a way they will understand. Teaching is much more than making sure a student knows how to do a particular technique. It’s helping them to understand its application, how it fits into the larger picture, how it relates to other techniques. No every student is ready to hear and absorb every lesson when they’re being taught it. As a teacher I need to understand that they are not ready to learn a lesson as the time I’m teaching it or at the pace I’m teaching or in the way I’m teaching. Students who are eager to learn are undoubtedly a joy and make teaching exciting. Yet every student deserves to be challenged in some way. Finding that way is most challenging for the teacher and requires a deeper and deeper understanding of the subject and of human nature.
One of the ways I believe I can be an effective teacher is to be an example. Some of my best teachers did not teach in any formal sense; they simply lived what they believed. They taught by being. Following their example, I try to be mindful that my conduct, especially in front of the children, is being watched probably more than what I’m saying. It’s much easier to teach someone a down block than it is to teach integrity. Yet the way you teach a down block will speak volumes about what integrity means.
I’m fairly certain I’m not destined for any kind of a career in teaching. I’m also certain that I’m a teacher everyday.