What is teaching? What can we expect? How do we recognize good and bad teaching? What equipment does a teacher use? A teacher is needed to transmit information. Good teachers will always make you want to know more. A good teacher will make you curious about what else is possible. A good teacher will take you by the hand and encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. They will present you with challenges. Such a teacher can make a tremendous difference to you!
For this reason, we absolutely need capable teachers. Teaching and learning are more than just storing information in students’ minds. Instead, it is crucial that the information comes out and is used when needed so that it also helps in the operation, in competition, and in the given situation or task. Without a doubt, it can be said that teaching is an art!
During the ACT! Workshops I’ve been giving abroad for many years. I have seen many examples. Good and bad examples when it comes to teaching. I learned a lot from teaching in many different countries such as Malaysia, the Middle East in the vicinity of Dubai, Israel, European countries such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and in the various states of America and Canada. I enjoy traveling. I meet wonderful people, see a lot of diversity in training animals, and I get to teach in different languages and cultures.
It’s sad if trainers try to convince others that their way is the only way that will lead to success. Like people, also dogs have different learning styles. And all dogs, like people, have different personalities. And where you can not blame the animal for not understanding your training, this is the same for your students. If they need help understanding you, check your teaching style! Please don’t blame them. The real trainers are the creative ones who can quickly switch between different training styles that can quickly see what will and will not. And there is a simple basic rule, and if they can not explain to you simply what to do, they don’t understand it themselves. On top of this, be aware of ‘the special methods’. There is no Simon Prins method. I didn’t slam my name on a unique way of animal training. Because I use classical and operant conditioning, use feedforward coaching and follow and use the work of famous pioneers like Pavlov, Skinner, Watson, Thorndike, Premack, the Brelands, and others. I gather and analyze data and write and follow my training protocols. Yes, I did slam my name on the radio directional protocols because I built them from scratch in 1996, and they are used now worldwide by many special forces and others. And I did add my name to the innovative training devices I built. But I didn’t slam my name on a particular training philosophy. By following the work of the pioneers, using smart protocols and innovative training devices will not make you the best trainer. It’s also about experience, ownership, training hours, real-life operations, mistakes, creativity, and perseverance. And then, when it comes to teaching, it is all about empowering others. Understand their needs, be able to communicate effectively, and be able to bring them to the next step on their level. Give the opportunity and safety to make mistakes. Encourage making mistakes and tell them all you know; there are no secrets. That is sometimes really demanding for a teacher. Because you do not exclude students or dogs when things are not going as you like, it’s your job to help them grow. So figure out how to do this!
Teachers must get the best out of the combination (dog and handler) in front of them. You can recognize them. The ones that dare to decide to switch towards another approach, the ones that are reflective. They use feedforward, they don’t judge, and they are calm. They use their personal power, and their experience and take action when needed. Good teaching is not just about imparting knowledge but also about inspiring students, motivating them, and helping them reach their full potential. They should be passionate about their subject and have the ability to foster an environment of learning and growth. Good teachers should create a safe and welcoming environment where students feel comfortable asking questions and sharing ideas. This will be conducive to learning and exploration. Teachers should be patient and understanding. They need to be able to listen to their students and be open to their ideas and suggestions. They should also be able to provide constructive feedforward coaching and support. Good teachers should also create an atmosphere of trust and respect in the group. They should be able to foster a sense of community and camaraderie among their students. Good teachers should also be able to tailor their lessons to the needs of their students. They should be able to use different teaching methods, such as lectures, discussions, activities, and projects, to ensure that all students are engaged and learning. They should create an environment where students feel comfortable expressing themselves and their opinions. And where students dare to step out of their comfort zone.
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