I teach TESOL certification courses. In these classes I help teachers develop their teaching philosophy, and I teach them methodology–HOW to teach.

What does this mean for me in real life? It means that when I take a class, whether it is a language class or a BJJ class, is that I am hyper-aware of how the instructor teaches and about the feel of a classroom. I’m aware of what I need as a student, and for the most part I’m aware of what I can offer.

Our BJJ group this morning

My experiences in Ukraine kept me VERY happy

So here’s my list, and I wonder about yours!

I need to feel emotionally safe/comfortable
This is affected by me, the other students, and the teacher. In general I can understand when I’m causing my own discomfort, so if I recognize that I can work through it, but when the source is another student or the teacher, I don’t want to be there. If I don’t feel emotionally safe, I shut down. Smiles are hard to come by, I get a bit broody, and the fun is sucked out of everything. I hyperfocus very quietly and can’t connect with people. As a woman training in a male dominated sport, is it any wonder this is at the top of my list?

I need to feel valued
I’m not saying I need to feel like the queen of Sheba, but I do add to a BJJ class, even if it’s just because I’m a woman going consistently. What I don’t want is to feel like I’m an annoyance or silly or stupid. I already feel a bit silly and stupid because I’m not so body smart, but what I lack in skill I definitely make up for in heart and determination.

Cobra Kai Johnny

I need to enjoy myself
This is my hobby and my joy. If a school is overly serious and frowns on having a good time I don’t want to be there. I’m definitely not saying it should be a clown school, but a relaxed atmosphere where people can have fun while they’re training. I am serious about getting better, but I don’t want a cut throat atmosphere.

I need partners who can help me improve
This can mean they are knowledgeable, or communicative, are fun, etc. Are they helping me learn techniques, etiquette, something else? There are people who help me just by being them, and some people who REALLY don’t help.

I need a school whose schedule is compatible with mine
It doesn’t matter if a school is super-dope awesome, if I can’t go, I can’t go.

Rex Kwon

Rex Kwon Do, Just Say No

I need an instructor I can trust and who has both knowledge AND the ability to teach
I’m in the ESL field and believe me when I tell you that just because someone speaks English doesn’t mean they can teach it. The same goes for BJJ. I need to be able to trust my instructor’s skills, but also that they are able to teach me how to do it in a way that’s clear for me.

I want to be able to approach the instructor
I go back and forth between need and want on this. For me, an instructor should have an open-door policy. Questions, comments, concerns, etc. You should be able to talk to the instructor if you need help. A student shouldn’t be made to feel like: a) they’re bothering the instructor b) they’re not good enough to approach the instructor. When I feel I can’t approach an instructor, I don’t usually feel emotionally safe.

I want to have a family feel
This means strong relationships with the people there, both inside and outside the gym. I want to build strong connections with the people in my school. If there’s a family feel, it ultimately makes you feel very emotionally safe and comfortable, which can cut through a lot of the other problems.

I’d want to record techniques
I’m not so bodily smart. Often, BJJ moves look like magic to me. I’d love to be able to record moves and then watch them at home to remind myself of them.

I’d love everyone to feel mutual respect for one another
I don’t know that it happens ANYWHERE, but since this is my wish list, I’m putting it. I want to feel equally comfortable walking up to a black belt as I do to a white belt. I want a place where anyone can and does spar with anyone else, with the caveat that of course you can refuse anyone! But not to the point where all the white belts know that only blue and above are “allowed” to roll with that purple belt.

I’d love a clear teaching plan/methodology/goal
Is there a method to the madness? Are there themes by week or month? Does the teaching build on previous things? How do they handle newbies? Is the information far too advanced for most of the students? A clear plan addresses these. As an educator I respect this IMMENSELY.

Great, but what do YOU offer?

Woman (me) grappling no-gi BJJ

Look, ma! Fun, friendly, AND educational

I offer commitment
When I love something I stick to it and I stay with it. I will stay with an organization until I feel a) unwelcome b) uncomfortable c) undervalued. Basically, I invest in a place emotionally, monetarily, and physically and I will stay excited and enthusiastic until given many reasons why I shouldn’t.

I offer enthusiasm
I may not be good at something, but if I love it I will stick to it and stay enthusiastic. I’ll direct people to my school, encourage people to check it out, write about it on my blog, link to your school, update Facebook statuses about your school, comment on your website/Facebook page, tell all my friends, etc. In other words, if I’m happy, I’m a fabulous PR person.

I offer my gender
Okay that sounds weird. But what I mean is, like attracts like. I will do what I can to get and encourage women to be at and stay at your school. I will talk about my experiences as  a woman at your school. I will go to tournaments and represent your school as a woman in BJJ. I’ll be happy to talk to women about training at your school. Some women won’t roll with men, so having me around means they’ll be more involved. Plus, I’ll encourage them to get out there more! 🙂

I offer to help
When I can, I’ll offer help to my partners. This might mean helping someone newer than me by giving them pointers. This might just mean being encouraging. But I’ll try to help out my fellow participants! I will ask pertinent questions about a drill.

I offer to listen and respect you
I give my respect until I have reason not to respect you. I will do my best to not disrupt class by asking unrelated questions or coming in late. I won’t question your judgments, but I will ask you why, but it is never to disrespect, and only to understand the reason behind something.

How about you? What do you need/want/like? What do you offer? Answer here or your own blog, but make sure to link back here and/or post a link to your article here!

Oh yeah, and after posting that pic from Karate Kid, I find myself desperate to buy a Cobra Kai costume.