So, recently, I began to take notes for myself. I put the date, student name(s), lesson type (1/2 hr. Or 1 hr.; group or private), time, and what we did.
June 4, 2011 -- Joey; 1 hr. Private lessonHave any of you other instructors ever done this? (If not, it's working well for me!)
Reiterated grooming, tacking up. Warm-up in round pen: walk, jog, lope. Pole bending. Cool-down in round pen: walk. Dismount safely, lead horse to fence, tie up with quick-release, remove bridle, loosen saddle, put bridle away safely. Rider rode Prince for this lesson with minor issues maintaining the jog.
By using this I've been able to better plan my lessons based on the skill level of the student. I may even take note on if the horse gave them trouble, or any outstanding issues (such as: still bouncing in transition from jog to lope -- go back to basics with this!) with the rider/horse during the lesson. So the next week I would likely spend more time covering whatever went wrong on the previous lesson if it was something I couldn't correct immediately. (Some students take a little while to apply what I'm asking them to do.)
For example: My lesson "Joey" today began to bounce a lot in the saddle, despite his posture being OK to his riding level/time in the saddle. When he would transition to the jog, I could see some sky under his rear. We had this problem last year. After some thought and intense observation, I realized that he's extremely dependent on his reins (basically balancing on the horse's face!) and his stirrups, hardly using his legs at all. So to help him absorb what I was telling him to do with his legs, I made him drop his stirrups and let them walk around for a while before I asked him to bump up to a trot. And, in using his legs, he didn't bounce out of his seat at all!
So, by my notes this week I'll be able to better understand the progress of my student. Has any other instructor used this method? Something different?
Note: The "notes" I take are in a private notebook with me at all times. I arrange my days off around my lessons so we need not worry about a fellow instructor getting confused by my notes, or the student confusing the instructor about our "itinerary" by babbling or getting things mixed up. I only discuss my lessons with the boss & student!