As a teacher, your primary goal will be to empower your students by helping them become confident, proficient, and self-reliant whitewater kayakers. To do this, you will have to wear many hats: tour guide, confidant, therapist, drill sergeant, educational theorist, professor, and fitness model to name a few. Great teachers put students in the drivers seat, giving them the opportunity to develop at their own pace. Great whitewater kayaking instructors have to do this while dealing with the added challenges of risk management.
- Put your students first: Simply put, they are why you’re here. Your primary goal must be your student’s success. That being said, it is important that you allow your students to succeed on their terms, not yours. To truly put your students first you must develop an understanding of their personal goals, and help them develop the skills necessary to reach those goals. While there will certainly be times when you should push your students beyond their personal expectations, you must do this within the context of their stated goals.
- Use measurable benchmarks: Effective teachers use personal achievement and success as the intrinsic motivator that rewards hard work and encourages continued growth. To do this, you must set measurable goals so that your students can quantify their progress. By laying out, and explicitly stating goals, you can construct an environment that allows your students to track their progress. The simple feeling of progressing and succeeding then becomes a powerful motivator that pushes students to continue to develop their skills.
- Constantly seek to develop an understanding of your students learning styles: Examine who takes an active roll, ask questions, listens, watches, etc. Use the information you gather to cater your delivery to match students’ individual styles.
- Be yourself, do not become an automated delivery device for kayak instruction. You do not want your students to be dependent on the power of your shining personality to enjoy paddling, but their there to have a good time and you should be yourself, as long as you’re the mellow, reliable, genuine, friendly, enthusiastic, all around good person type. Just kidding, kind of.