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Inspiring The Next Teachers

Happy 2018! I hope this new year brings you lots of positive adventures and look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones too in my travels . It looks like it will be a busy year.

I have had some time these past couple of weeks to reflect. I should have been writing modules for the online course but my head was not clear enough for that (yes I got that nasty bug), and it was too cold to do any real videoing for the course. So, while I sorted through years of paperwork, I allowed my thoughts to wander.

Monty atop Icky with Alex by their side

I have been a teacher for many years and have taught many different things, not just clicker.

Whether by circumstances or temperament I was always driven to learn. In my childhood, I had almost no access to riding instructors but I read everything I could get my hands on. This was partly because of my love of learning but primarily to find help for the many issues my first horse came with. Not only my first horse but also my first ‘thinking outside the box’ horse as none of the suggestions in the normal horse training books worked. That was over 50 years ago and I thank her for all she taught me about training. Thinking back, I realize that it was also my first experience of using food to reinforce behaviour.

Many years later, I again had to come up with an ‘out of the box’ solution, but this time it was with children and my teaching job.

Talk about baptism by fire. I was a brand new teacher and my first job was in a challenging area of the city. The kids were underperforming teens- shut down, angry , not wanting to be there and it was my job to try to motivate them and get them back into mainstream classes – oh boy!

Through very individualized plans and cooperative learning with their peers I was able to get them all back and functioning in a real classroom. The hardest part for me was sending them back into a world that neither encouraged their creativity nor celebrated what they had to offer.

Many years later I had to come up with a better way to teach my own kinesthetic learner, my daughter, her multiplication tables.

She loved to ride ( wonder where she got that from) so I set up the answers to the ones she was struggling with on cards posted around the arena. I gave her a few choices but managing her environment to set her up for success. I would ask the question and she would ride to the answer. This was how she needed to learn and it worked very well.

Alexander Kurland standing at the mats with Icky

So where is all this leading to? I have been told by many of my students over many years that I am a good teacher, which is wonderful to hear and makes my heart happy. It is also especially nice to hear from my teachers and it is a reflexion on them and the great job they did. They encouraged me to become an independent learner. One of them is Alexandra Kurland who started me on a formal ‘clicker’ journey and has encouraged me to run with it and develop it further. The other is a lady I’ve written about in another blog, Bernice, who was my teacher at University and to whom I now teach my EquispeakTM lessons. She still challenges me with wonderful questions to be better, to think through things and explain them more clearly. I thank both of these ladies for helping me on my journey and encouraging me to take the work even farther. Just as they have acknowledged and built on other teachers’ work, I want to do the same. As my work has evolved past what I received from them I hope that they are pleased to see their contribution in what I am doing as I take work in new directions.

Bernice and her mare in a lesson

While I am always there to pose questions to my students and offer suggestions to point them in the direction needed, it is my intention that through my clinics and individual work, my students will learn to embody the philosophy and techniques such that they become not only independent learners, but also break down goals and devise their own solutions to training. When a student takes my work and builds on it or comes up with a better way, it not only speaks to my success as a teacher, but also advances this most valuable work of improving the communication with our equine partners.

I applaud their creativity which confirms my belief in them. I always try to keep in mind that a generosity of spirit is necessary to enable me to see the ever increasing knowledge circles set in motion which is the ultimate goal of all good teachers.

So I look forward in 2018 to doing what I do well ( and enjoy doing) and helping others in their journey towards independent and successful learning. Until we meet again Keep it Positive!

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