I often hear from swim school operators that they have difficulty building staff morale and fitting in staff training. Well guess what? It doesn’t have to be a chore, it doesn’t have to be a big event and it doesn’t have to take weeks of planning. Within your swim school I’m sure you already have a wealth of knowledge to share between you. My suggestion is that you start by having weekly brainstorms with your team. Throw ideas out there and give people the opportunity to share what they know. Initially the swim teachers may be reluctant to participate but after a while everyone will be eager to throw ideas around or suggests topics to discuss. Having these open lines of communication is vital for building staff morale and making a workplace where people feel like they are valued and can contribute.
Below I have listed 6 topics and my thoughts to get you started with these brainstorm sessions.
Laurie’s thoughts on positive reinforcement
The most powerful tool a teacher or parent can possess is positive reinforcement. Congratulate your little swimmers for every achievement no matter how small. This will make them more likely to try the particular skill again. Make sure that you are genuine with your praise. Don’t just say good boy or good girl. Be more specific, “I love those fast kicks”. Even very little babies will react positively to a smiling face and a happy voice. What are they types of positive reinforcements that we, as swimming teachers can use?
Laurie’s thoughts on the types of learners
It is important to understand the different types of learning. Generally children fall into one or more of the following categories; visual learners, auditory learners or kinaesthetic learners. Visual learners learn through seeing, auditory learners learn through listening and kinaesthetic learners learn through moving, doing or touching.
Good swimming teaching requires parents and teachers to communicate using a combination of the learning styles. We must always;
1. Show the child what we want
2. Let the child practice
3. Correct any mistakes
What strategies do you use in your swimming lessons to ensure that you are meeting the different learning styles?
Laurie’s thoughts on being knowledgeable
It is important that as swimming teachers we make the swimming lesson fun, stimulating and educational. This can be easily done by becoming knowledgeable on the growth and development of babies, working at the child’s pace, and communicating your knowledge and excitement to the parent and child. If you share your knowledge the parent is less likely to become bored with the swimming lesson and will place greater value on the activities that you are doing during the weekly swimming lessons.
It is my belief that the water is the main stimulant in the swimming lesson. However toys and equipment can be incorporated as long as it has a swimming related purpose. For example climbing up on a floating mat and performing swim out to the parent has many benefits for the child. This activity will help to develop the child’s balance, co-ordination, strength and muscle tone. It is a prerequisite skill for learning to climb out on a high wall which is an important safety skill. Swimming off a floating mat can stimulate a different entry into the water prepare them for if they fell in. Do the parents in your swim class know all this?
What activities are we using during the swimming lesson and what are their benefits?
Laurie’s thoughts on maximum practice time
Maximum practice time is essential for skill acquisition. Maximum practice time is best achieved by grouping the children homogeneously by ability level or having parental involvement during the swimming lesson for one on one attention and manipulation.
Pool design, ledges, teaching equipment and teacher positioning will also help to achieve maximum practice time. What strategies can we employ to help achieve maximum practice time in the swimming lesson?
Laurie’s thoughts on lesson planning
Every class we teach is unique and therefore requires practice and development of different swimming skills. Lesson planning is important because it allows us to identify the needs of different classes and create a lesson that suits those needs. Every activity that is planned in the lesson must have a purpose.
Planning in advance, deciding on a goal for a lesson and writing down the skills and drills that you will use to achieve that goal, will not only make your job easier as a teacher but will also have many benefits for your students. It will make the lesson fun, keep the lesson interesting, challenge students, and importantly keep the class achieving and improving different swimming skills.
Can you share your lesson plans with the team to make sure we are all working on the same goals?
Laurie’s thoughts on class control
To provide a safe and secure learning environment we must maintain class control. This often means setting rules and regulations to ensure the safety of those participating in the lesson. Gaining class control requires respect from both children and parents. So, show respect to parents and children and expect the same in return. Remember, if we establish these ground rules early we will create an environment that is conducive to safe and secure learning.
What are the rules and expectations of your class and how are you reinforcing them?
These are just a few brainstorming ideas to get you started with your staff. Once you establish open lines of communication ideas will start flowing and your staff will work together as a team to solve problems and educate each other in the work environment. Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge it only create more valuable teachers, excited parents and a good quality swimming program.
To learn more about a good Swim School program http://worldwideswimschool.com/swim-schools/professional-development-staff/
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