Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Parent and Baby classes (an update)

Last week I wrote about how I'd been on a course to learn how to deliver Parent and Baby classes, by which I mean: swimming lessons where the parents get into the water with their child, in order to ready them for regular swimming lessons where the child is in the water with a teacher but independently of their parent.

The course went quite well. It was intense! There was a lot to learn in the space of just three days. I also had a bit of a shock when I found out that we would be examined. I - somewhat naively - thought that it was simply a case of going along and being shown how to teach the classes. However, it turned out to be a proper qualification, with both a written and practical examination.

The theory exam was very straightforward. It was a thirty question multiply choice paper and - like most of the group - I achieved 30 out of 30.

The practical element was also pretty straightforward (for someone with previous swimming teaching experience). It took the form of having to deliver a 15 minute lessons to - and this was quite nerve wracking - actual real life parent and babies. Apart from the fact that after 10 minutes it felt like the clock had stopped, it went quite well. I didn't feel completely comfortable but then I don't think I will for a little while yet.

So with the course out of the way, it was time to do some shadowing. My boss said that I would shadow one of the other teachers on a Tuesday morning for a few weeks - which I took to mean at least 2 weeks before taking over the classes for myself. Something I was more than happy to do because although the course was well run - and although I wasn't getting paid for the shadowing - after the course alone, I didn't feel prepared enough to start delivering classes on my own.

So last Tuesday I shadowed the other teacher. However, as it was the first week of term, hardly anyone turned up and so although I got to see a little bit of teaching and I got to pick the brains of the teacher a little, last weeks shadowing was mostly a waste of time. But that was ok because I still had at least another week of shadowing to go and I was pretty sure that more parents and babies would show up in the following weeks.

But that's when the first bombshell hits: the teacher I shadowed has gone on paternity leave for the next couple of weeks, meaning that for yesterdays lessons I was on my own... already! Now if that isn't bad enough already, that's when the second bombshell was dropped. My boss tells me that during my first day of teaching parent and baby classes, the National Swim Manager would be bringing his son along to one of my lessons. That's the NATIONAL Swim Manager, the guy responsible for swimming throughout Virgin Active, for the whole of the UK.

That's pressure I can do without! My boss is very supportive but there's not a lot she can do to help me. So obviously I go into super stress mode. This could only happen to me! What on earth am I going to do? Yes I can prepare and I did prepare as much as I could but at the end of the day this is my first ever day of teaching the parent and baby classes. Something that was going to be pretty damn nerve wracking already!

So I stress for a couple of days, don't sleep properly and snap at my girlfriend. It's not a particularly nice time. I try to put it out of my mind but mostly fail and all this stress for what? In the end the guy doesn't even turn up! Which was a huge relief, but at the same time, part of me kinda wishes he did because now I got all stressed out for absolutely nothing!

So, I did my lessons and apart from the fact that one of the very first things that one of the mothers says to me (sternly), in my first ever class is "I know how to hold my own baby". Not necessarily the ideal foot to start on. But let's give her the benefit of the doubt, maybe she was sleep deprived and a bit tightly wound too? Although I'm guessing she's just not a very nice lady? But either way, other than the abruptness of that one lady and the never realised impending doom of the big, big boss showing up, the lessons went quite well. I did find it a little hard to fill 30 minutes, I'm not completely sure what to do with them next week - as we pretty much did everything I could think of haha - and I'm not sure that I really enjoy teaching parent and baby classes. However, overall my first lessons were a small success and teaching them means an extra £40 a week and so I can't really afford to moan.

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