I am a teacher. That's what I get paid to do. And yet, I find that I enjoy the opportunity to be a student. My brain literally crackles during a lesson. And since I am usually the one giving directions, grading work, and checking on progress, I know exactly what it takes to be a good student. To get the most out of your lesson, follow some of these tips from a teacher.
- Be on time. For my trainer that means you get more lesson time. She has other students before me and other students after. It's not fair to the other students if I ooze into their lesson time.
- On the other hand, don't be too early. The rider(s) before me are concentrating and need the trainer's full attention. My bored pony, who might be just standing at the fence, is a distraction for those who are working. Additionally, the trainer is busy and has a schedule. She might have chores planned for those 15 minutes before you arrive.
- This goes without saying, no cell phones.
- Dress comfortably, but neatly. Clothing that is bulky or flapping only distracts the eye and makes it more difficult for the trainer to evaluate your posture or arm position. There are dress codes for a reason.
- Bring your materials. This might mean horse boots, a well-adjusted bridle, a saddle pad that doesn't slip, or a whip. It shouldn't be your trainer's job to root around in her tack room for what you forgot.
- Do your homework. The trainer doesn't want to reteach the same lesson over and over. You might continue to work on the same concept week after week, but you should have practiced since the last lesson. You might still have problems, but with practice you should be able to explain to your trainer what problem that you're having so that she can help you get closer to mastery.
- Follow the trainer's directions. She probably has a plan and is laying a foundation for the next concept. If you don't understand the purpose of the task, ask for clarification. If you don't understand the objective, it is difficult to master it.
- Even when the task is hard, it is important to try. Don't complain, don't whine, don't fake it. Genuinely try to do what she is asking of you. If you simply don't get what the trainer is saying, ask, but ask a specific question. I don't get it doesn't help the teacher help you. Instead, ask in a way that shows what part you do understand. This will give her a place from which to start the explanation.
- Be respectful. This means coming with a good attitude and ready to get to work. If your lessons are genuinely about learning, leave the baggage at the door. Drop all of your problems at the gate, and be in the moment. You will feel refreshed when you are finished and those problems may seem smaller on the way out.
- End the lesson with a plan. Do you know what you accomplished? Do you know what you need to work on before you return? Have an idea of where you need to go before you come back. If you leave feeling confused, you'll just practice the same old mistakes when you're on your own. And again, if you didn't understand, ask. Ask what you need to work on. Listen for a specific task. Maybe it's simply opening your pelvis, bending your elbows, or slowing his pace. When you leave, you need to know what your homework is.
Everyone of these ten tips are things that I encourage my students to do every day. My honor roll students do them without thought. Learning is only partly about the teacher. Learning really comes from the student in spite of the teacher. Good learners will learn no matter what. Good learners matched with good teachers can accomplish marvelous things.