Sunday, March 7, 2021

What makes a good guest instructor?

 We'll be starting Gompers Judo practices up again in the fall when school is back in session. My plan for the first few weeks is getting some conditioning done, falls and basic matwork. After that, we'll be having invited guest instructors come in hopefully weekly.

There are three reasons for guest instructors:

  1. I travel a lot and cannot commit to more than one day per week past the first few weeks of the semester. My day job is making educational games and, as you can imagine, remote learning has made our business skyrocket.  Also why I have not been blogging lately.
  2. I don't know everything. Yes, I am sure that shocks you. I'm very good at matwork. However, my knees are shot and I am old and slower than I used to be. It is great to have a young person come in to teach left uchi mata or tai otoshi. Also, I am terrible at foot sweeps.
  3. It's good for students to have multiple role models and connections. Maybe this is the person who will give them advice on going into the military or pursuing a career in engineering.

So, what makes a good guest instructor?

First of all, you need to know some judo. Even that is not 100% required. If you were excellent at conditioning, I might invite you a time or two. At a minimum, you'd need to know something that would help kids in judo. 

However, you definitely don't need to be a world champion. These will be students who have had from four weeks to maybe two years of judo. They need to learn o soto gari and kami shiho gatame. 

Secondly, you need to be a good teacher. Our Gompers Judo students tend to be very well-behaved and polite. That doesn't mean we are going to make them sit there and listen to someone deathly boring after they have sat in class for six hours. Even if you are extremely knowledgeable, you need to have an active class. After all, these are middle school kids. 

This goes with being a good teacher, but you need to be respectful to our students. By that, I mean you can't swear at them, insult them, humiliate them, hit them or mistreat them in any way. You'd think I wouldn't have to say that but visiting other clubs tells me that I do. Having students who are slacking off or do push-ups, run or generally not tolerating less than good behavior is fine. Not being disrespectful doesn't mean your class runs wild. Again, you'd think I wouldn't have to say this but ...

Third, for our particular program, you need to be someone who is a good role model outside of judo. I have invited everyone from a project manager in aerospace to Los Angeles sheriff's officers to college students. You don't have to speak about your career but the students may ask you. For many students, judo is a chance to meet people outside of their neighborhood. Other judo programs have a lot more advantaged students and this is not an issue for them.

Fourth, again for our particular program, you need to be willing to teach for free or a very modest fee because we want to spend most of our money directly on the students, for water, after-school snacks, weekend judo camps. Again, other programs have more money and it is not an issue for them. Also, we are very fortunate that we are in an area where there are a lot of black belts in judo. If I was in say, the middle of Missouri or Montana, I might feel it was a lot to ask someone to drive 5 hours each way to teach at my program for free. In our case, though, a person could be driving across town and then having a beer with me afterward while they wait for traffic to die down, so it is not as unreasonable.

So, if I call and ask you when I am putting the schedule together for this fall, please say, "Yes" and give me some dates you'd be available.

I have more random thoughts on this but I need to get back to work.

Here is my company blog that has nothing to do with judo. I write about making games, math and random stuff.