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One of the biggest challenges is a perceived lack of instructors. We say perceived because it’s our view that most of us are surrounded by instructors just waiting to be discovered. Often, instructors don’t feel as though they can afford to pay someone what they need to exist and they’re right.
Others judge the potential of an instructor by the level of their technical execution when, in reality, they may have 10-to-20 very personable, enthused students who may not have the best round kick but love to help people and feel important.
The question is, how do you find these diamonds in the rough? The secret is the formation of an intern or leadership program.
In obtaining a degree in education, university students are required to be interns for a period of time for little or no money. In pursuit of a medical degree, one of the most difficult and trying periods is the internship. In following our idea of operating a karate school like a private school instead of a gym, it would certainly be advantageous to look at this internship program very closely.
During most of our classes, you will find the student body broken down into groups of six to eight people per group. While the class may number 25 – 30 students we endeavor to keep an eight or ten to one student to instructor ratio.
Paying four to five instructors for each class would not only be impractical, it would be impossible. However, these instructors are members of our leadership program and as such are very enthused and trained volunteers.
They receive weekly classes in leadership skills and communication in addition to straightforward lessons on how to teach our curriculum. Payment is the furthest thing from their mind. They are honored to have the opportunity to help their school and flattered that we would ask them to help teach, and they should be.
Our school takes great pride in the quality of student we produce and if someone is considered skilled enough to contribute to that, then it is indeed an honor. As a result, some of them have even decided that to make martial arts their career.
Understand that with very rare exceptions, this leadership team never runs a class or is responsible for more than six to eight students for any longer than 10 – 15-minutes at a time. They are not ready for that level of responsibility and frankly, students want the main instructor to work with them.
However, it’s not necessary that the main instructor work with the class every minute. A parallel example would be a dentist’s or doctor’ office. The assistant takes care of the preparation for the first half of the visit and then the doctor comes in and takes care of the expert detail work.
In most cases, the main instructor is very careful to match a group or individual with a leadership team member with the ability to handle the job.
Often, leadership team members are restricted to just wandering corrections. As they advance in skill and experience they progress to teaching small groups or individuals.
The beauty of this system is that you are really helping these people take their martial arts skills to a new level. As you well know, teaching is an art in itself that instills confidence, clear and concise communications skills and the ability to motivate.
These skills can be translated outside of the school in both the professional world of management and the academic world. Leadership team members are given special privileges in recognition and appreciation of their outstanding contribution to the school.
They may receive special uniforms, patches and, in rare cases, scholarships for tuition. The key is to select your leadership team carefully, then monitor and train them. In other words, inspect what you expect.