My parents were teachers so, I paid attention to what teachers did and I paid attention to what it took to become a teacher in our school system. One of the steps in the process was to become a student teacher. Student teachers came into our classrooms to practice what they had learned in college. I never asked any of my student teachers how closely what they learned at college matched with what they were presented with once in a “real” classroom. I imagine that the student teaching job exposed some student teachers to environments and attitudes they never foresaw. That was probably one of the big incentives for having a student teacher program in the first place.
We had a chance to attend a clinic as students recently. We try to be students of the horse everyday but, being another persons student can be both enlightening and challenging. We don’t have a lot of ego. We know that there are many things we do not know and many things that we know that we could do much better. So, when we attend a clinic, we really are there to pick-up new ideas, look at something we do in a new way, and to refine our skills. Because we both teach humans as a part of our business, we are looking for new ways to present ideas to others as well as find new things to help our horses.
I’m not a very good student. Even when I try to listen and follow instructions, I end up doing things that cause my teacher consternation. When I ask questions, I come across as argumentative and when I reply to questions asked of me, my answers come out all wrong. Worse yet, when I attempt a new skill, I’ve got two left feet and six thumbs on both hands. I’ve worked on correcting or adjusting those faults but, with little success. Something happens to my brain and body at a clinic that I just don’t understand. Despite all of that I feel like my horse gets better and that I come away with nuggets of information valuable to my learning journey.
The really great thing about attending a clinic is that I gain increased empathy for people that attend one of our clinics. We’ve known for a long time that different people learn in different ways. What we tend to forget is that different people have different reactions to the clinic setting itself. Some people are comfortable in that setting and will say and do all the right things. Others are more like me, saying and doing some good things and some not so good things. What’s important for me to realize is….we wouldn’t be attending if we didn’t want to learn something. Sometimes we take a chance and go to a clinic knowing nothing of the teacher nor the way they will present their information. Other times we know the teacher, know how they present, and have an idea of what we may take away from our experience. Either way, we are there to learn.
As a teacher to humans about horses and cattle I need to remember that what works for me doesn’t always work for the next person. I see and feel things differently than the next person. I’ve worked at developing ways of interacting with my horse and with my horse on cattle that work for me. I shouldn’t expect that those things will work for my students. What’s important is developing an awareness of what you want from yourself and your horse and then developing a feel for when those things take place. What you do to get there is not nearly as important as getting there in such a way that you and your horse are comfortable and relaxed and enjoying the learning process! That’s what I learned from being a student this time. I pray it makes me a better teacher.