World Wide Swim School often asks Centre Owners and Managers what they would like to see improved in their program. An overwhelming response is usually “lesson planning to optimise swimmers learning”. This means – managers would like to see their staff plan and execute lessons with a clear focus where swimmers are given an opportunity to learn, practise and master a skill within the lesson.
Many swim school operators tell us that their teachers are trying to fit too many activities in their lessons and there’s not enough emphasis on skill building. I have some simple tips for teachers to consider when planning and executing their lessons.
Each Lesson You Teach:
- should be kept simple
- should be repetitive
- should have a key focus
- should have 3 or 4 Activities
Keeping it simple becomes easy when you know the program and levels you are expected to teach. It’s not going to benefit you, the swimmers or the swim school if you start to teach unachievable skills that aren’t even within the level or the program for that matter. That being said, you also must teach to the ability of your class. There really is no point on working on a breathing drill with your swimmers if they do not have a reasonably strong freestyle kick to begin with. Ensure that all instructions you give to your swimmers or parents are kept simple and not complicated.
Children learn through repetition. Skills must be practised and repeated numerous times to develop good muscle memory. Toss it all up by practicing the skills in a different formation or alternate directions. Swimmers will lose concentration if it becomes monotonous and the last thing you want is for them to be seen to be taking over the class by knowing where and what they are going to be doing next. Another way to overcome this is by simply incorporating fun with games and races. The majority of our swimmers generally enjoy some element of competition. Don’t forget to share with your swimmers and parents the reasoning behind why you may be repeating certain skills or drills or even better, why not communicate with your pool deck supervisor if you have one and have them explain to parents that you feel may benefit from knowing what is happening within their child’s lesson.
Every lesson you teach should always have a key focus and the focus of your class should be evident to your peers. Any of your co-workers, employers or managers should be able to tell within 5 to 10 minutes of your lesson what exactly it is that you are working on with your class. It should also be clear that you as the teacher are insisting on perfection for each and every skill to achieve that focus. Don’t be afraid to let your swimmers and parents in on the key focus of each lesson too, then they are in the know of what type of outcome is to be expected from the activities they are working on.
3– 4 Activities
Lastly but most importantly, you should rarely have any more than 3 to 4 activities within a lesson. Any more than that means you are restricting what can be learned within the lesson. By spending 6 to 8 minutes on each activity, you are allowing for maximum practice time, the development of good muscle memory and the development of good skill execution. Remember to choose suitable activities for all abilities within the class and adjust accordingly if needed.
As teachers, we must remember that it is our jobs to Congratulate or Correct. We should always be providing feedback to parents. We should be telling our swimmers how well they just did or how they can ultimately do it better. I always remember a famous quote I once heard that goes like this:
“The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept”
An example of this could be if a child swims past you with bent legs thrashing all around whilst you are doing a kicking drill with a kickboard and you just let them cruise on by… are you really going to accept this? Is this your standard? Is this your swim school’s standard? My guess is, it’s not. I’m confident that you wouldn’t let that happen and you would provide manipulation and feedback to help achieve a better kick and a higher standard all round.
I hope these tips will help teachers provide excellent quality swimming lessons for their swimmers. By adjusting your lesson plan slightly, you may find customer and management satisfaction on your lessons. Don’t forget to keep lines of communication open between colleagues, management and parents – ask them if they are happy with the job you’re doing. They may have some advice for you to improve and have the swimmers in the lesson learn and develop excellent skills. We would love to hear from you if you apply these tips to your lessons – what worked well/didn’t work for you?