One activity that I have really enjoyed this summer (I enjoy it all year but a little more in the summer) is taking my boys (Did I tell you I have boys? One is 11 and going into 6th grade and the other is 8 heading into 4th grade.) to taekwondo. My elder son just earned his green belt (5th belt change for him) and the younger just earned his camo belt (4th belt change for him). Their instructor, Mrs. Wargo, is quite possibly one of the most inspiring teachers I have ever met.
Now let me back up. I had an epiphany a few months ago. There are lovers of a subject and lovers of teaching. You can be both but one has to shine more than another. While I love history, I found history early in my schooling career and loved it from 4th grade Virginia History to my capstone 400 level course at Roanoke College, I have discovered that I love teaching just a little more.
Back to Mrs. Wargo. Mrs. Wargo is in her second career. She was a high school fashion merchandizing teacher in Northern Virginia for over 25 years. She and her husband had another taekwondo studio there. Once they "retired" and moved here (we live near a big lake/vacation spot) they started another school. My elder son is a member of the JTI- Junior Training Instructor- team. He helps in class and attends another class to train him to be an instructor. These classes are awe inspiring.
This past week she discussed the importance of having a commanding voice and body posture to ensure that the class is run well and everyone stays on task. They took turns leading the class in an activity that involved the students leaving their set points to form a circle. At first, the other JTIs were fairly compliant. Once they realized that Mrs. Wargo wanted them to be a little silly or uncooperative they really started getting into it. It was entertaining to watch these older elementary schoolers to high schoolers get their fellow classmates in a circle. It was a nice reminder that you need to be commanding but not overbearing to keep the peace in the class.
In addition to her classes I always enjoy reading her instructor's creed. She has it on sticky letters on a dry erase board. It reads:
I will teach this class as if it were the most important class I will ever teach.
I am patient and enthusiastic.
I lead by example.
She explains what that means to each JTI and then they sign their name to the board.
I really like this creed. Let me explain why.
First: The most important class is the class you are teaching that moment. It is where you currently are and your attention should be undivided.
Second: Patience is so important when dealing with people, especially children. When you loose your patience and are short with children you can leave a bad impression with that child. I try to remember to smile and say something positive to each student I see that day (from a simple and cheery "Hello!" to an genuine compliment.)
Third: Enthusiasm is key because if you are not excited about your subject how can someone else be excited? Enthusiasm is contagious!
Fourth: Leading by example is so true. People judge you on the actions they see you do, not necessarily what you say.
Mrs. Wargo also has this creed on her desk in her office. I'm thinking about putting one on my new desk.