Super-coaching secret: #3: Running the Checklist

Weaving order from the chaos of the fight experience is something that brings me joy and pleasure. Having my students participate in this ‘ordering’ process is something that I have found to be hugely beneficial to their learning experience.
Providing a means for the student to take a greater level of ownership of the learning experience not only makes my task as a teacher more enjoyable – it also produces a marked improvement in the desired outcomes of the class. There are a number of different teaching strategies that I have come up with to more fully engage the students in the learning experience.
One of my most powerful tools is my concept of ‘running the checklist’. The checklist is a road-map for the given technique or drill; providing the student with a concise and well-ordered pathway from the beginning to the end of a technique or drill. The checklist refers to the series of steps the student must take to negotiate this pathway. The words we use to describe each of these steps should ideally be short and descriptive (mono-syllabic if possible). I may well begin by describing the technique with as much use of language as is needed – but I will quickly reduce back to the use of monosyllabic descriptions of each stage of the technique – in other words, I start with my thorough description to build agreement and understanding but shrink back to my checklist as quickly as is feasible.
In having my students ‘run’ the checklist as part of their learning process, they get to tap into the sense of joy and flow that I myself experience as the designer of the class or teaching model. The student also experience a sense of early achievement as they successfully run the checklist and take ownership of the material.
Running the checklist also keeps the student involved in the process of the technique – it keeps them ‘in the moment’ and helps prevent them from making the very common mistake of over-focussing on the ‘goal’ or ‘end phase’ of the task. Staying in the ‘now’ – being ‘present’ at every step of the process – provides not only a better result, but a better level of ownership for the aspiring coach/instructor.
If the checklist is well-constructed, the instructor/trainer can keep the class moving through the process at the ‘speed of life’. Overuse of descriptive verbage during instruction can result in a hardwiring of the ‘pauses’ between each stage of the technique or drill. A well-constructed checklist will keep things moving at good speed and the students will more easily develop flow and continuity during the state of action.
Finally, the construction of a good checklist will make it more likely that the technique or drill will be reproduced more accurately at a later date when it is passed on or re-delivered by a third party. To develop the skill for constructing a viable checklist takes practice and work but it is very definitely a skill worth mastering. It will take your understanding, sense of ownership and ability to pass on what you have learned to others – to a whole new level.
Best wishes


Korbett said…

Thanks for the seminar. You get a chance to crack the Outliers book yet?

I have been teaching "on command" since I first met you 7 years ago. I love the "run the checklist" idea that you spoke about at the seminar and am using that with all my classes. Especially teens and kids where attention seems to wander quite frequently.

Anonymous said…
my number one blog to visit when it comes to ideas and concepts about teaching!! i have learned alot from everything you post.

awesome as always!!

JBW said…
Thanks guys - I appreciate the kind feedback. I have considered writing a book on Secrets of Supercoaching - and eventually I will - even if only my mother and one or two others buy it. I am sceptical whether it would be worth it (financially speaking) - but it is something I want to get done (for prosperity) - and will do soon - after I get done with my Rogue Black Belt series - this year!

Mike Bogdanski said…
Please write more on your coaching techniques. After training in martial arts for 40 years and teaching full time for over 20 years I learned in 2 hours how to be a better teacher by watching John Will!
JBW said…
thank you for your kind comment. on a personal note - I do feel I have made some strides with regard to coaching skills, especially in the last ten years or so. I do put some effort into researching how people learn and acquire new skills, and am constantly innovating and 'testing' new teaching ideas on y hapless students. After teaching my first 10,000 classes, I worked out the basics of teaching - the 10,000 classes that followed that were a constant 'work in progress', and I am half way through my next 10,000 now - and am starting to codify my own practises. I will probably get around to penning a book on the subject in the next year or two. best wishes Mike - and thank you again.
AndyG said…
Our journey through life exposes us to many experiences and lessons and has a profound and continuous effect on our growth and personal development. We learn from our parents, brothers, sisters, teachers, coaches, etc, numerous life skills to get us by. How much we retain has to do with how much we enjoy what we are learning and (for a lot of us)how well the person that is teaching us can convey the information, the content or their message.....I have spent my last 17years as a trainer/ Instructor of some sort trying to be that person who inspires people to learn and more importantly for me, be able to communicate the relevant information in order for those people 'to learn'....Until I met John, I thought that I was going ok...Sometimes hit and miss, but ok all the same. I soon realised my methodology was far too complicated, way too much talk and not enough action, etc, etc. Now I am a full-time, defensive skills trainer for both the Military and the Police. The end product and outcomes achieved from these lessons have to be spot on. It can have disastrous consequences if they don't get 'it’, and it's largely my fault if they don't get 'it' by the end of my lesson....I am now a true advocate John's 'Super-coaching' methodology. I can't rate it highly enough. I am blown away by the skill level participants are able achieve in far less time, not to mention the confidence and ownership these methods (John's methods) instil. Thanks again John!
JBW said…
Hey Andy
thank you for your comments. I very much appreciate it. We have great jobs and interesting lives - who would have it any other way. I look forward to catching up with yuou again soon - sorry i'll miss you on my trip to Canberra next week. Stay well,

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