Center Of Life

It has been a while since I have been able to sit down and reflect since I have been so busy. I just finished teaching my first ever pre-service lifeguarding class as a newly certified lifeguarding instructor!! It was such a learning experience for me because I never taught new lifeguards before. I learned so much about them and I learned about myself in terms of my teaching.

It was not until vacation last week where I was sitting on the beach and my music professor, Dr. Chevan, appeared in the clouds. He told me “now is a great time to reflect about the positive moments and moments that are (in his words) “in the making.” And immediately, I woke up after a nap this afternoon and began writing this.

And I want to work out in the open and document how I am learning. It is how I better myself and am able to provide a better world for other people when they know how I think and why I think the way I do.

I really liked how I was so organized each week and was prepared. I believe that students want a teacher who knows how to “keep the flow going.” Far too often, I have ran into other teachers that sit with their instructors manual and teach from that. Completely unacceptable. Especially, as a lifeguarding instructor, we have a legal responsibility to make sure that candidates are trained properly so they can go out and work anywhere and be successful. At least I can say that I am one of a few who actually throw the manual in the garbage and teach not only from my experience, but to show that I have been in the profession for six grueling years actually doing what they will be doing, and that I know the content inside and out. I want them to be able to do even better than I did. And that is the goal of most teachers.

And on a side note, I can not wait to share what I have developed for next year’s lifeguarding class but I am going to keep it a secret for now. Eventually in the next few months, I will enter a new dimension!!

Okay anyway, that is what I wish to happen for my students who went through my lifeguarding class. I want them to be able to be confident in themselves. I want them to be empowered by their own knowledge and new knowledge that I have shared with them. Their growth over the 11 weeks was incredible. I actually think they not only learned something, but they were able to apply it. And that is truly incredible to know that I was able to teach these students “how to fish so they can eat for a lifetime.”

Although, there were some moments that were in the making for me. I tried to utilize a weekly assignment system in order to reduce the amount of work I had to go over. And I actually think that while the system was great in theory, it turned out to be even more work for me.

I say that because the system went like this:

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  1. You are issued X amount of assignments on Monday
  2. You have a week to complete those assignments. If you hand in assignments the following Monday (when the assignments are due), you get the grade you get
  3. If you do not submit your assignments on time, you get a zero
  4. If you submit your assignments early to me, I will review them and then allow you to revise your work and resubmit for a better grade

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The goal of this system was simple: If you want a great grade on the coursework, you have to be self-motivated in order to put in the effort and get a good outcome.

And again, while this system was great in theory, the students went through it. I noticed that some weeks were good work and other weeks were just awful. And I needed to think about what made it awful.

And then it hit me: They were confused about what I expected in their work they were submitting. I actually spent more time designing the system rather than trying to create quality control with the system. Although, I did align the assignments to the content that they would be responsible for each week and that was structured; every week had consisted of a different topic.

So while I designed the system to organize each unit as a week, the quality was pretty rough at times. And I knew they understood the material because they were applying it to their periods when they would shadow lifeguards at different facilities.

Also, I found myself having to remind people to hand in quality work. And that took a lot of extra time especially when they submitted assignments that were not to their potential.

Another issue I found with how I designed the course was that most things were in print and not online. I say this because we are more likely to forget a piece of paper (because we misplace things) rather than have everything be online. I also tried one week to have the content be online through a module-based system, but that was problematic because the students did not have working technology.

Additionally, with online learning, it is hard to gauge whether or not they really comprehend the material. Maybe students did not do any of it and copied someone else’s work instead and passed it off as them doing the work. It is a false sense of mastery. So on that regard, I have to tweak how I would create an online learning environment.

Hint hint: A spoiler alert to what I developed for next year!!

And another issue came with the course: resources. I did not have access to different types of watercraft to do watercraft rescues as well as masks and fins for searching shallow and deep water. It wasn’t until today where I received these bulks of materials. So, students did not have as good of an experience with this content as I wanted them to have because they did not have the resources. Although, I taught this content anyway and worked through this.

All-in-all, the conclusion I had realized was that I needed to make the way the learning is delivered more easier for students. I think this because it will increase the quality of the work. And I do admit that some of the assignments were busy work – and for once in my life, I will say that I did what the instructor’s manual said to do! That’s a first!

But it is a first that will be a last … that is for sure!

At the end of the day, I was glad to see my students go out and get lifeguarding jobs because I knew I did my job in teaching them everything they needed to do simply “a good job.” To accomplish that, I built their confidence.

And even with the countless private swimming lesson clients I have, the goals that I really want for them are no different. Hard to imagine we are half way through the summer. Definitely a rewarding experience for me.

Oh, I want to share with you some good feedback I got from swimming lessons which really piggyback off what I have been trying to put in words since I talk too much:

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And that is something I believe in which goes back to what I wrote earlier: If people realize they have the capabilities to do anything they put their mind to, they will do just that. And they will be better than me which is what I hope for. And that leads me to a lesson I teach about getting to the center of life.

This lesson I teach to all my students goes sort of like this:.

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“Close your eyes. Picture a lake. The water is still. It appears to almost be glass or a mirror as it reflects everything around it. See yourself standing on the bank of this lake. See yourself bending over and picking up a rock. Now throw the rock as far as you can toward the center of the lake! Look at the explosion of water and all the directions it goes. But look closer – look at how much energy there is near the center of the splash zone. Look how close together all the ripples of the water are. There is so much energy there!

Now watch as the ripples move further and further away from the center of energy. Do you notice how much calmer they are, how farther apart they become from each other, how finally they lap against the shoreline one at a time, with very little energy left?

Now ask yourself this: Where was the most energy? It was in the center of the circle. I look at each and everyone of you and say do whatever you can to get to the center of the circle. If you see someone standing alone at the back of the circle, grab their hand and help them to the center where they with you can experience all the energy and be part of the energy!”

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It is a great anecdote, and you see the excitement building on the faces of the students. These students are ones who want to play a significant role in leadership through service.

And all was right with the world until a friend of mine in Delaware posted the following quote by Dalai Lama:

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“Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped in water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.”

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As usual, there are two sides to every story and multiple consequences! Although, the “consequences” I realized in designing this course for the first time are seen as ideas; the only way to make it even better the next time around is if you refine and build on those ideas. Thus the energy must be positive and the ripples that spread out, the subsequent actions of individuals must have a positive impact upon all those they reach. That is, if you want positive changes and positive outcomes.

Sadly these same anecdotes and even parables, when they are used from a negative point of view, will have the same impact only 10 times over really because negativity is far more persuasive than positivity.

So to my students and to everyone who I appreciate reading my stuff, remember that every action has a consequence and every idea has a result. Try to do as I did over the past 11 weeks and consider how you impact others in your life.

You are, after all, the rock in this story.

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