I want to start this off with a confession… I HATE co-instructing. Not only do I hate it, but I’m also pretty awful at it and I’d like to make a public apology to everyone I’ve ever co-instructed with in the past. I am a huge perfectionist when it comes to the way lessons look and the pacing they have. When there are two instructors in the pool who haven’t discussed a game plan, things tend to change pace and get jumbled up when the visions each instructor has for the lesson start blending together. When I’m teaching with another instructor, I tend to take control of the class and let the other instructor work individually with swimmers in the group, but there are definitely other co-teaching options that can create an open, comfortable space for both instructors to grow as leaders of the group and learn from one another’s teaching methods.
Now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to use this post as a declaration to put more effort into developing my ability to co-teach. This post is for all the other instructors out there that hate teaching alongside someone. I’m hoping it will give you some options on how to better yourself as a leader and co-instructor. So here are a few different methods of co-instructing that I’m going to be trying out over the course of this semester and I encourage you all to do the same:
- Splitting the class time in half and switching lead instructor halfway through.
- This is going to take some getting used to because, naturally, people talk and interact at different paces, which will most certainly change the pace of the lesson, but will give both myself and my co-instructor to take lead and learn something from one another.
- Setting up email chains with my co-instructors
- It might be more effort on all of our parts, but I’m 100% committed to putting in extra time to discuss who’s going to be teaching what skills and the information we want to be sharing during the lesson together. This is a great way to devise a strategy for each lesson without waiting until a minute or so before the class starts to figure it out. Plan ahead and keep organized!
- Talking openly about a schedule for switching off as lead instructor
- It’s definitely important for our swimmers to be exposed to different voices and styles so having one instructor lead one week and the other take the next is a great way to make sure everyone is becoming comfortable with swimming with different people. Planning this schedule ahead of time will give each instructor time to prepare and limit the issues many of us have faced with talking over one another in the attempt to fill the unplanned silences throughout the lessons.
- Offering feedback to my co-instructors
- This one can be a little tricky, but I’m willing to create a safe environment for the instructors I work with to acknowledge what really works about their teaching style and what they could work on to become stronger with their language and execution of drills. The key here is understanding that once this door is opened, feedback becomes a two way street. I’d hope that the instructor I’m working alongside is willing to provide me with feedback about my teaching so that I have the same opportunity to grow. Be sure that you have permission from your co-instructors to give them feedback before going at it. It definitely won’t work if the willingness to share is one sided.
How else can we work on becoming better co-instructors? From here on out, I’m going to be putting my perfectionist mentality aside to help bolster the team I’m working with and to create a space of growth for the swimmers we teach.