Teaching Philosophy

September 10, 2010

I was discussing teaching with a co-workers today – a guy who went to school for music education so he actually knows about that kind of stuff – and he made a comment that really resonated true with me:

In order to treat everyone equally, you need to treat everyone differently.

Q&A After class with Grissom

That’s not to say you have favorites or something, it’s to say that what works for one person isn’t necessarily going to work for someone else.

If Jimmy and Suzy both spend 3 hours studying for a math test (ie: putting in the same amount of effort) and Suzy gets an A and Jimmy gets a C – that doesn’t mean that Jimmy’s C is worth less than Suzy’s A. The work put into it was the same.

You can’t take a lesson plan and make it fit everyone, you have to tweak it enough for each individual so that it works for them. I want people to succeed, not fall through the cracks because what I’m teaching is too generalized and doesn’t work for their pet.

For example, I had an obedience class a while ago with 4 dogs in it. Three of the dogs were new to training and the fourth, Hopscotch, had learned a lot in puppy classes already. So what I did was go over the basics in such a way that the new people were able to get their dogs to the level that Hopscotch was already at and then I went on to give Hopscotch things to work on in the same general area but more suited to her level. Hopscotch could sit quickly and prettily while the others were getting lured into it still. So I had Hopscotch start working on distance sits, more distractions and longer times. We made it so that class wasn’t boring for her even though she wasn’t at the same level as the other students.

I LOVE giving individualized attention, and I think people like getting it. When you go to a class, you want to learn things that apply to your dog, not just any dog. And that’s what I like to do best.

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Life Skills Every Tuesday

September 8, 2010

I brought my friend Dan with me to Life Skills at Madison Mutts on Tuesday, and the result was some pics of me teaching class. Usually Life Skills ends up being between two and 6 dogs, though I’ve also had classes of 1 and classes of 8, so it kinda just depends. It is a drop-in class after all.

MM Adoptee Spencer getting lured into a Down

Anyway, Life Skills is essentially just really basic stuff. We go over Sit and Down and Stay and Leave It, etc, etc, etc. Generally, it gets tailored to whoever shows up. Since it is drop-in and people may only come for one or two weeks instead of 6 weeks like a standard obedience class would run, there’s no point in trying to keep a set schedule – at least not unless we start announcing what we’re teaching from week to week.

So, this week we had three dogs. Here’s Spencer, a recent Madison Mutts Adoptee. He’s a super sweet, pretty smart dog. He just doesn’t know how to lie down and from what I hear his recall’s in need of some pretty serious revamping. So, what did we do in class? Well, downs and recalls, of course.

Grissom- the cute terrier mix in the background – is great too, but since his recall with distractions (like food) needs a bit of work, it worked out well for him, too!

That’s really the only problem I have with the drop in class: sometimes the dog’s skill levels are so drastically different that I have trouble accommodating them all without one of them getting frustrated or bored- those classes end up having a lot of mini-private training sessions, which I actually like doing anyway.

Little Jack Sitting Pretty

I’m slowly coming up with a vast array of ideas for classes that I can do. I’m actually thinking that one of these days I’ll start advertising the Life Skills class as something where each week we tackle a different problem behavior. Barking one week, digging the next, recall the next, etc. I think it’d be really useful, since a lot of the time people are just looking for help with one behavior and don’t want to deal with a 6 week class or guess at what they’re teaching that night in a drop-in class.

Of course, we could always do a tricks class, too.  Then dogs like little Jack could show off their Sit Pretty and maybe learn some other fun things, too. Like Find My Keys or Bow or Get Me a Beer – you know, vital stuff. 😉


Coming to a store near you!

September 2, 2010

No, really!

I’m SUPER PSYCHED to announce that I’m going to begin teaching classes for Tabby & Jack’s starting September 15th! I am THE trainer, and I’ve got my whole customized curriculum and everything.

We’re starting out offering only Basic Obedience and Puppy Class, but hopefully in the new year, we’ll start up a whole barrage of new classes like Tricks Class, Problem Clinics, Canine Good Citizen and all sorts of good stuff!

I’ll also be offering private training lessons through them! It’ll probably be free consultation and if I can help, we’ll go from there.

I can’t wait!!

Aside from my new classes with Tabby & Jack’s, I’ll still be volunteer teaching Tuesday night Life Skills classes for Madison Mutts All Breed Dog Rescue… probably for eternity 🙂

Shameless Plug: Madison Mutts is awesome, and if you’re interested in donating, volunteering, fostering or really anything at all – contact us. We’d love to hear from you.