Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The joy of teaching

Teaching kayaking is a job. It's a fun job, but it's still work. Especially on the river. You have to constantly be looking after your students. You are always on and paying attention to a million things that most people would never notice - where you position yourself on the water, where the hazards are, what are the students' energy levels, how long will it take to get to the park if no-one swims, if one person swims, if there are multiple swims? And many more. It's quite a different mindset from simply paddling.

A lot of instructors will tell you that the fun part of teaching is the students - seeing them progress and learn; seeing them have fun and discover this wonderful sport. And while that is true it's also fairly consistent. Teach long enough and you will see every different type of student. They become a constant in the equation. While some may be more fun, some more challenging, and we might really connect and keep in touch with a few, we do our best for every single one regardless.

But when you get to work with other instructors it changes things immensely. When you get to work with good friends who are gifted and capable teachers it eases your burden and opens the path for more fun. After all, students come and go (rather quickly for the most part) but your co-instructors and friends are with you a season, a year, a lifetime. That relationship is a far deeper thing that has more personal meaning than the student-teacher dynamic. I mostly teach alone and I do enjoy it. But working with my friends brings a joy to teaching that can't be found alone. My funnest days at work are dictated by those I get to work with and on that score I am indeed a lucky man.

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