t h e i n t i m a t e s t r a n g e r

And the student becomes the teacher.

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The idea of being a teacher, or to teach, had never appealed to me. I couldn’t imagine myself standing before a class of 40 young faces and talking for hours, much less knowledgeably and confidently in front of an A U D I E N C E. Shudder!

I did however give tuition while I was in school — to earn extra pocket money. I didn’t enjoy it after the initial novelty and the realisation of the practical issues and realities, and it became a dreadful chore. I decided that teaching was just not for me.

When I started working and had to attend various training sessions, I would always feel a little annoyed when the trainer was incompetent, or just bad. I reckon my negative experiences reinforced my ambivalence about teaching. I’ll’d find myself enduring an ineffective trainer and run through the list of do’s and don’ts in my head. (Yes, I’m judgmental like that.)
















It started with me getting back into swimming and constantly looking for ways to improve. And — I didn’t realise this until later — my interest (and obsession, even) was evident to others whenever I talked about swimming. And not a few people suggested that I should teach.

I don’t know at which point my views towards teaching changed. Having more positive experiences helped — I remember going away from a few training courses thinking that was a well-spent break from work that I was sorry to see come to an end; and I was also inspired by great speeches and talks on YouTube and TED. (So, I’m always instinctively judging. Ha. Ha. But you know what? Critique is essential to coaching!) And I thought how nice it would be if I could engage my class the same way.

And over the past decade, I’ve changed as a person. I became less shy about speaking up and sometimes even enjoyed expressing myself, particularly when I saw a ‘wrong’ and just had to make it a ‘right’. While this is certainly a positive change, I think I also need to know when to zip it (ha. ha.) and remember that listening is just as, if not more important. As an aside, I’m working on tempering my eagerness and zeal. While I don’t consciously and intentionally set out to upstage anyone, it can seem insensitive to interrupt another person and make them look lesser, or worse, feel bad about themselves. And I ought not to assume or impose my viewpoint on others especially in situations where it really isn’t about getting things ‘right’ — who’s to say who’s ‘right’ anyway, eh?

I also realised that my ambivalence about teaching was because my thinking processes tended to focus on the negative (my glass was always half-empty) — the inconveniences and difficulties (perceived or otherwise) of teaching, like managing students/strangers, having to spend all my free time preparing for classes, and self-confidence issues.

These negative thoughts still come to me — perhaps it’s just how I’m wired. But I now make an effort to challenge them. And then I think about how to get what I want; the process of planning takes me farther away from my doubts and closer to my goals. I’m enjoying being able to be so passionate about something because I’m not held back by my doubts; I’d rarely been passionate about something (do crushes count? ha. ha.). It’s just wonderful to feel so alive, and to look forward to each day.

Come to think of it, having gone through this process of overcoming my doubts and challenges systematically, was already a form of coaching — with myself as student! It’s funny how life works out.

So, I signed up for a sports coaching programme, hoping not only to become a certified swimming coach, but also to improve my own swimming at the same time. Preparations began late last year — looking up the requirements, planning what needed to be done and how and when, sorting through a few hiccups, getting re-certified in CPR, going back to lifesaving training, working on refining and perfecting my swimming strokes, and registering for the actual coaching programme. I’ve been attending twice-weekly 3-hour lectures after work the past month and will be taking the theory examination this coming Tuesday. Mid-July, I’ll be going for my lifesaving Award of Merit. Sometime in August, there’ll be a selection process in the form of a swimming skills test, to determine who would be accepted into the September intake of the technical programme. And all this is just to attain Level 1 certification, which would enable me to coach sports novices in the community. At the higher levels, coaching would include managing competitive athletes.

It’s keeping me really busy but I’m learning a lot of useful stuff that’s also applicable to other parts of my life, and enjoying myself while I’m at it. And each day, I’m getting closer to my goal :-D


Written by The Intimate Stranger

June 22nd, 2014 at 2:02 am

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