The last 2 months I feel like I am a changed man. Between beginning my 30 for 30 challenge, then keeping it going for the last 10 days I am learning a lot and learning little things I can do better. My weight has flexed but not broken where I want it to, but I am working towards my goals and it feels good.
In January I started helping coach my Olympic Fencing class. The experience has been awesome and I am learning quite a bit in trying to learn things to help them with. It is like I may actually get better at this stuff yet. Some of it is learning how to play the game, but to me the key is to teach good technique regardless of the game. In HEMA that means working to avoid the double hit or the after blow, In Olympic Fencing it is about teaching technique that supersedes right of way and is a clear strike with a block or block with at strike so it is clear no matter who has right of way, that you won the good touch.
Also in January I taught a couple of classes on my own in my Long Sword group. This was mostly our instructor being gone, so I filled in. Saturday was different. Last week my instructor decided to let me teach so he could observe. To me, and from the feedback I got it went well. We had a larger group than usual, and they all seemed to like the format of the class I used, as well as liking some of the drills I came up with to go over things with them.
A lot of this has gotten me thinking, am I ready to teach?
In the past I have helped teach, I have taught on weeks someone was not there, or gone up and worked with my study group. But am I, right now, ready to teach? If tomorrow I was told I could by my instructor, would I be ready. Last week I am not sure I would have been. Too much self doubt, too much worrying about how I would do it, too much worrying that I would not have anything good to bring to the table.
That was then, this is now.
I realized something last week that really helped me. It is OK to say I do not know. It is OK to teach and not have all the answers. Sometimes the answers that are best come from discourse with the students and coming to better answers than I would alone. To assume that a single instructor has all the answers, and any other possibility is wrong makes for bad teaching and is the start to me of dying arts. What matters to me is being flexible enough to consider other possibilities. But it also comes down to relying on what I know enough to trust.
The big thing for me is getting over the self doubt, getting over the self esteem stuff and know that yes, I do know my stuff. I do not have all the answers, but that gives me room to grow. Can I get better? To think otherwise is a futile idea. But the key in my mind is how do I carry myself. Will I allow that self loathing and doubt to rule me, or will I trust that I have studied a long time, have room to improve and could get there with a little work for my own, and my students good.
You cannot move forward without some sort of idea of what moving forward looks like. This is mine. I feel like I am ready, and will continue to learn, not just for myself but for my students. A couple of weeks ago I started a drill with the fencers. It was a simple drill that came out of seeing a need and working to fix it. So what does a good teacher do? If I do not honestly know the answers, go looking for them, or perhaps send the student asking to search for them. This makes me push myself, and at the same time, push others towards their greatness too, and at the end of the day, that is what matters to me. Not glory, not pride, but helping others succeed. Do I get something out of it? It feels good when I do it so yes. To me though that is one of the greatest gifts I can receive and it is a gift that I give myself.