Teaching

Teaching

I was fortunate enough to run across an incredible agility instructor early on in my agility career that has benefited me tremendously over the years.  Her expert eye and no nonsense attitude meshed well with my learning style and I am where I’m at because of her.  For a lot of competitors they may not ever find that instructor or may not find them until many years after they’ve been competing.

Over the past couple of years I have given occasional thought to trying to start teaching agility to people.  I’ve had some small experience helping with a local instructor teaching pet level people how to have their dogs do the equipment safely.  So these aren’t exactly people gearing up to start competing.  While it was good experience there wasn’t necessarily a lot of knowledge transfer going on or skills teaching.  That transfer of knowledge is something that drives me to want to teach.  I want to see competitors get better and be the best they can be.   Having a high level of passing for this sport also drives me to want to give back in some small way.

Unfortunately, there are a few issues holding me back.  The biggest is that I’m afraid of being wrong.  I’m really just a guy with an incredible dog.  We’ve accomplished a lot and been to a lot of instructors to see how they teach things. However, I don’t have any incredible insights into the dog mind.  I don’t have an incredible insights into the science of dog training.  So, when teaching, I would be really afraid of not telling a student accurate information.  Being wrong is something that often stops me dead in my tracks.  I’m not certain how to overcome this, but I think it will involve a lot of just doing it.

The reason this is big in my mind recently is because at the IFCS WTSE in January I was talking to fellow competitor and agility instuctor Tracy Hirsch.  She asked me if I wanted to teach any seminars.  I looked at her and asked why would anybody want to take a seminar from me?  I’m virtually a nobody.  I haven’t taught any “real” classes and definitely haven’t taught any workshops.  So what would I be teaching? What can I give students in a seminar?  Then on the way back to my hotel on the last day, Onyx and Jane’s breeder sent me some messages asking me the same thing!  Talk about weird.  I basically told her the same thing initially, but after I thought about it some more I said I’d do it.  Why not take the plunge and see if I can even do it?  See if I even like doing it?  Plus going to Tucson in the winter for a weekend sounded like a good idea.  We haven’t scheduled it yet, but hopefully that will happen soon.

Of course, now that it probably will happen I have to really put the rubber to the road and prepare.  Creating courses. Thinking about the information to present.  It scares me a lot, but I have to put that aside and just do it.  Who knows, maybe this is my calling in this stage of my life?  But I won’t know that unless I just do it.

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