Teaching Tai Chi Effectively | John Gough

I learned a very valuable lesson early in my teaching career.

My first class started off as a roaring success. It commenced with twenty students in a hall too small for this number.  However I was delighted with the response and all progressed just fine.  I had a few drop out, as expected, and the class settled at a consistent fifteen. We had started in the September and as we approached holiday season and the long break the atmosphere in the class was very upbeat, so much so the group organized a picnic for our last class. We all had a ball, and everyone was returning the next year.

So on the first class of the following year, all excited, I stood in the hall with three students.

Where had I gone wrong?

After much talk and beating of breast, and analysis, I reached the conclusion
that while the students had enjoyed themselves, however, they had not taken ownership of their Tai Chi.  My challenge!! How do I encourage my students to own their Tai Chi?

Now I would like to share with you something I call, “The Cement“- “Winning the confidence and respect of your students.”

This is the glue that keeps my classes together and everybody winning.  It is easy to say but not so easy to put into action.

This is how I work to achieve it.

I try to Listen to what my students are saying, not only to me but particularly to their fellow participants.  I try to Listen with my ears, eyes, heart and mind, not only to what they are saying but also to their body language, for this really tells me what their real attitude is.  I work to be open and honest in my dealings and what I say at all times.

I Involve my students in as much of the process as possible and encourage them to have their input.

I Encourage them as often as possible and always use positive comments.

I Praise them as a group and especially individually, as this helps them to feel good about themselves and works to build a culture of a positive and welcoming environment.

Laughing often, builds a happy and enjoyable classroom

A Consistent Teaching Method

The Progressive Stepwise Teaching Method works well for me and my students have given me good feedback on my teaching style.

Lead by Example – Practice —

As their teacher it is my responsibility to ensure I am as good as I can be.  If I can get into class before my students arrive I practice.  I want them to see me practicing and I invite them to join in where possible.  Some make a point of coming early so they can.

So how has all of this worked for me?

Well I have started a number of classes since the awakening and I am teaching approximately ninety to one hundred students per week across the TCH menu in Yang and Sun styles, a little qigong, and my classes are located in community halls and private and government organisations.

Thank you for this opportunity to share my experience with you.

I encourage all of you to enjoy your Tai Chi journey and that of your students. (original video)

John Gough

[Transcribed via Dr. Paul Lam’s YouTube Channel]

[Edited & Posted by: Michael Joyce]


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