“So..I might not be the easiest pupil..”
This statement was met with a laugh by the H and the question “What have you done now?”.
This makes me sound like the troublesome student at the back of the class that doesn’t pay attention, but I can assure you that I pay VERY close attention. This might be one of the issues. I take everything in. Every little detail. If you say something that you’re not quite sure of, you’d better beware because I will be asking question later.
I’m a great asker of questions. “Why?” obviously and “How?”. “But what if…?” is a favourite. I’ll keep going till I get a satisfactory answer and till I understand. We might be there all lesson on the same detail but I won’t be satisfied till I am confident I understand.
I was once told that if I really understood something I should be able to explain it back to the teacher in a coherent manner. This really works. However the slight delay in working out in your head if you do understand gives the impression that you have understood, only for you to pop up a few minutes later saying “I don’t understand”.
I can see how this could be annoying for the teacher but I’m just as frustrated.
So where am I being a teacher’s pest? Well in my swimming class. Yesterday I finally had enough of being told to KICK FASTER! (I don’t take kindly to being shouted at, it’s guaranteed to make me very contrary indeed).
I’ve questioned the flutter kick technique in detail to try and understand the mechanics, I’ve watched endless videos on YouTube, I’ve tried various permutations of the “kick from the hip, relax your ankles but point your toes” ideal and I am unable to kick faster. In fact kicking faster just seems to unbalance me, knacker me out and make me come up for air with an effort akin to a breaching whale. Yesterday I snapped.
“Whyyyyy do I have to kick faster? It’s exhausting and I don’t get anywheeere”
“To go faster”
“I don’t neeeed to go fast, no one is chasing me!” (at this point if I’d been on dry land I’d probably would have stamped my foot.)
“Oh…yes (look of surprise) well then…try slower and see how you go”
And do you know what? Success, at least partially. I actually managed to put everything together for a couple of lengths; legs, arms and breathing in a coordinated manner and without the need to stop mid-pool.
There was also an ‘incident’ last week. The pool we use is a gym pool but there aren’t any lane divisions. It’s roasting here at the moment (today we’re at 97F/36C) so in the evening the pool is really busy with people trying to cool off. There are the kids who splash about in their arm bands and generally bob into your path. There was a kid last week with his rubber ring who brought along a family of rubber ducks. There are the teenage boys who splash about and wrestle with each other. There are the people who don’t actually swim but just stand by the side chatting. There are the actual swimmers and my favourite; the bobbing man. This guy dives to the bottom of the pool with each stroke and then pops up in a completely different part of the pool. He reminds me of a diving water bird.
One evening , it was particularly bad. I may have already been a teensy weensy bit annoyed with the KICK FASTER!. I was preparing to set off and I couldn’t actually see a path through the water. It was busier than the busiest shipping lane (which is the English Channel apparently). I got out of the pool and announced that I was leaving; the pool was far too busy and I would see the instructor at the next lesson. Thankyouverymuch.
Yep, I know…ever so slightly overdramatic and cringeworthy. I then had to slink back to the changing room in shame when I realised I’d left my watch in the shower.
I did call to apologise to the instructor for my abrupt exit, but I didn’t back down about the pool being too busy or the fact that he had 9 pupils; 5 of which were little kids. The instructor is a young guy that is at Uni in the evening. He teaches 7 – 11am and 5- 7pm, he has a busy day. It’s great that he’s working and studying, it’s admirable… but young man; GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. We had a chat about teaching. The gist of it was that teaching isn’t only about imparting a skill or information, it’s about managing your classroom and your pupil’s expectations.
Although the rope to section off part of the pool didn’t materialise, the next session was much more organised and he enlisted the help of the life guard to keep the other swimmers away from the lesson.
I admit that I may not be the easiest person to teach but at least my teacher has constructive feedback from me. It’s that old chestnut about using your voice. I’m not going to sit back and grumble to the H about something, when I should be dealing with the problem and trying to find a solution. Or, say that everything is going swimmingly when it most certainly isn’t.
If that makes me a challenging student, then I shall take that badge and wear it with pride!..along with my hideous swimming hat and my eye-popping, super-suction goggles.