Class management is a topic that is very broad as there are many aspects that we can look at in regards to class management but for now, we are going to focus on only a few; a few that I personally find very important.
Getting to know your Gymnasts/students/families and members:
Let’s start with a scenario situation. Let’s go back to our school or university days. You are there many hours, you see the same teachers every week, it’s a month into starting the year and you know your teachers name and you probably have at least one thing you remember about them but… they do not remember your name or, they call you by a different name or better yet, they ask you where you’ve been because they’ve marked you as not present. However, you have been attending the classes? How would this make you feel? I know I’d defiantly feel let down and almost uncared for.
It is so important that as coaches, at the very least you know who’s in your class, by name. Here is where we shift a little bit to transparency.
“I coach so many kids a week, how am I supposed to remember all their names?!” I hear you ask, it’s as simple as being open, honest and transparent. I often find that people avoid using gymnasts’ names because they don’t remember… but that method is NOT going to allow you to remember names, you will continue to use words like “mate, sweetie, buddy etc” which is not personal and for some, it can feel uncomfortable. Here is my handy hint:
Learning your Gymnasts name is a form of respect, without mutual respect, you can easily run into issues with your class behavior.
Put yourself in their shoes. Would you feel respected if your coach/teacher/employer didn’t know your name and never bothered to learn it? You wouldn’t feel respected and you probably wouldn’t have a lot of respect for them.
Boundaries (rules) Positive reinforcement and consistency:
Boundaries, along with positive reinforcement (we will get to that next) is probably one of the KEY topics when it comes to class management. Kids and Young People thrive off having clear boundaries.
At the very start of every lesson, let the Gymnasts/students know EXACTLY what you expect from them but do NOT overload them with rules. Something I start off, nearly every class with is:
NEVER GIVE UP! If you stay consistent and follow through with what you say, they will learn, it is all about LEARNING! Learning names & learning boundaries. You’re learning and they’re learning too and a part of learning is pushing boundaries to see whether you, as the coach or teacher, will follow through with what you say so do not give up, do not feel mean. If you say to a Gymnast or student that if they don’t listen to you, or if they run away from the class or if they push inline you’re going to sit them out, you MUST follow through with that consequence. I personally do not like sitting people out UNLESS they are being unsafe and could injury themselves or somebody else. So I came up with a system to avoid that.
So often as humans, we find ourselves focusing on the negative, how easy is it to say;
It is something that you have to CONSCIOUSLY do as it probably won’t come naturally and that is okay!
To assist this process, I implement a “chances” system into my classes, everyone starts off with 3 chances. They can build upon these chances or they can loose these ‘chances’. (I find the word "warning" to have negative connotations to it so I avoid using it). If I notice a Gymnast doing a skill really well, or listening really well, I will give them a chance, but ANY Gymnast, not just the “difficult” Gymnasts can loose chances. The positive of this, is if they are on 1 chance, they can easily build it back up again. They aren’t ‘Doomed’ to be on the verge of sitting out. If they loose all their chances, the gymnasts know they require a minute of two to recompose themselves before joining back in. Once a minute or two is up, we have a quick chat about why their behavior wasn’t acceptable and then they join back in. Once they rejoin the group, they have 3 chances again that they can build upon.
If you are consistent with what you say, the Gymnasts will know that you won’t accept anything less, therefore, learn that what you say goes, leading to a positive class.
Things to remember:
By the time we see our Gymnasts, they have been at school for the bulk of the day. They’re tired or they could be hungry. They’ve done a lot of learning already. As coaches, yelling or disapproving of our gymnasts are not going to help them. If you see one of your Gymnasts not themselves, simply have a chat with them, ask them how their day was, ask them how they’re feeling, ask them if they had a good weekend. Children and Young People go through things too. Their friendship circles change, they may have family stuff going on, they may be finding school difficult, they may have recently moved schools, etc.
They are people too and we cannot expect them to be perfect and their behavior to be perfect. If they aren’t feeling great, that is fine, it is okay to say to them:
We aren’t perfect, they know this. Children and Young People truly do respond well to transparency.
It is so important to figure out what works well with your class in terms of:
Every class, every Gymnast is different…. The most important thing is to seek help from whoever you report to. Some kids are a challenge, and that’s okay, find someone who can support you through class and back you up.
I hope you enjoyed today's blog and you find some of its tips helpful.
- Coach Beth