Teaching Anxiety

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Teaching Anxiety

This is a discussion on Teaching Anxiety within the Horse Talk forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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  • 2 Post By HollyLolly
  • 1 Post By BornToRun
  • 1 Post By HollyLolly
  • 1 Post By countrylove
  • 1 Post By NorthernMama
  • 1 Post By AnneGage

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    01-11-2013, 06:16 PM
Unhappy Teaching Anxiety

My new coach, who is also a councilor, thinks that I'm too quiet and has started me on teaching beginner riding lessons for her younger clientele. I can teach the basics and I don't have a problem finding a way for younger kids to understand, I'm okay with that, but I find talking to people I don't know very well kind of difficult. I freeze up and find it hard to explain what they're doing wrong, or telling them what to do to fix it. Long story short, I find talking to them and yelling across the arena to them hard for me to do. What can I do to help with this?
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    01-11-2013, 06:33 PM
Practice, practice, practice! I have a fear of public speaking so I can relate. I can talk one on one to anyone but the moment there is a group listening to me I freak. The only way for me to overcome my fear was to suck it up and do it. The more I did it the easier it got. I have given an introduction speech for David Mas Masumoto (an author and well known heritage peach farmer in southern California). I shook like a leaf LoL but the pride I felt and still feel was worth sucking up my fear.

A few tips I've gotten over the years:
Make it a point to talk to someone you don't know every chance you get (even if its just hi)
Work on being loud and outgoing with people you are comfortable with
Practice in the mirror or videotape yourself
Don't make direct eye contact, look at their forehead (That way your still looking at them but its not so intimidating for you or in a group focus on something directly behind them)
Practice with people you are most comfortable with
Remember that these people WANT to hear what you have to say

I'm kinda having a brain block but as I come up with more tips Ill post them
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    01-11-2013, 06:38 PM
Aww I think this situation will actually benefit you Although it'll seem difficult at first, don't panic. Kids probably won't even notice if you get a little frozen, as they're concentrating on their pony and riding, and will only be listening to you like 80%, and if they notice and giggle now and then, they're only kids, random things amuse them, it's probably not even you they're giggling at! If you get a little stuck, take a deep breath. If you forget how to explain something, think how you'd do it. If you get really stuck, go up and show them (like, using leg aids for example, take the pony to the middle, and physically press the child's leg where they need to be pushing the horse to ask for the response, and you can use minimal words because you'll be showing them you just need to say "Look, as you press you leg, your horse knows to move in that direction. Now you try by yourself and see what the horse does" Or something like that)

Don't over think it, have a laugh, if you get totally stuck, just say something dumb like "Oh goodness, I've forgotten what I was saying, somebody must be stealing my thoughts" and do it in a really animated way, kids lap that stuff up, and do a big laugh afterwards and they'll laugh with you.
SamBadger and BornToRun like this.
    01-11-2013, 06:41 PM
Originally Posted by countrylove    
Practice, practice, practice! I have a fear of public speaking so I can relate.
Thanks, I'll definitely start trying these sometime! I'm going out on Sunday for another lesson, so we'll see how it goes this time
    01-11-2013, 06:45 PM
Originally Posted by HollyLolly    
Aww I think this situation will actually benefit you Although it'll seem difficult at first, don't panic.
Haha thanks, I'll try not to over think! I have started showing them what to do when I feel I can't explain it. Them being kids is easier, I think, for me for some of the reasons you brought up. Thanks for the tips
HollyLolly likes this.
    01-11-2013, 06:49 PM
No problem! It's daunting for anybody but I think it could really open doors (even if you don't want to teach forever, think how it will help in prospective interviews Etc, you'll have much better people skills Etc!)

Best of luck, keep us updated, and if you need any advice, there are thousands of people with good advice on this very forum!
BornToRun likes this.
    01-11-2013, 06:49 PM
I just remembered a tip that athletes use too... visualize exactly what you want to accomplish and don't let any negative thoughts ever enter that vision. Visualize it as much as possible. Subconsciously it triggers your mind into a positive place, giving you confidence and makes it easier to get the job done :) sounds silly and is even hard to do but has a lot of success in the professional sports world
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    01-11-2013, 06:58 PM
Why is it easy to explain to kids, but not to "people you don't know?" Well, I think maybe because you aren't expecting to receive much defensive reaction from kids, but adults can and will question what you say, get defensive, maybe get agressive about it.

If you expect negative feedback from a student, you will get negative feedback. One way to help keep the negative to a minimum is to keep the students' confidence in themselves and in you. How to do that changes from student to student. Some need you to say something positive first, then give a critique. Some need a recap of exactly what they have done in detail. Some need overall guidance. Some need far more positive enforcement than we, as teachers, might think should be necessary. But what the student needs is what the teacher must deliver.

Perhaps you need to analyze your expectations; review your instruction and communication methods more so than gain experience in being more forthright and outgoing. If you are on the defensive before you even walk into the arena, that's going to be a huge message to the students.
BornToRun likes this.
    01-12-2013, 12:23 AM
Congratulations for taking on this new and exciting challenge. I have been coaching riding for many years and can assure you that I still do many of the things you describe. I forget what I was going to say. Say "do this with your right hand" when I meant the student's left hand. It happens to everyone.

If I'm struggling with finding the right way to explain something or the student isn't understanding, I will demonstrate either from the ground or on their horse. You can even put their hand or leg where you want it to be to correct their position (always ask the person if it's ok if you touch them before doing this).

Some people learn better by seeing. Others learn better by doing. So, just telling them what to do is not always the best way for everyone anyway.

Another idea if you don't like yelling across the arena is to have your students come to you in the middle of arena. You explain what you want them to do. Send them off to do it. Then have them come back to the middle to talk about how it went - what they did right, what they need to change, etc. You can also ask them questions to make sure they understand. Sometimes I have to do this when the indoor arena is noisy because of wind or heavy rain.

Be patient with yourself. Remember that you are giving your students something very valuable - your knowledge.

Enjoy the journey.
BornToRun likes this.
    01-12-2013, 01:04 AM
^ Thank you!

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