Progress - younger class

So my young endeavor into teaching my own class of students has already proven fruitful. All the kids came in with the same attribute in all of them that I've seen from them since before I took the classes over - a lack of enthusiasm.

We have been working on improving blocking effectiveness, proper stances, safe striking and general form. I made them kihap with each single strike (yeah, just try to keep a kid quiet) which appears to build some confidence and foster a little competition. *snicker*

Last night, having been out of class for two weeks, I evaluated everyone for progression stripes. These kids have had the same two stripes on their belts for as long as I've known them. We didn't even warm up, just bowed in and, since everyone trickled in one at a time, the opportunity to evaluate each one individually was easily provided.

I started with my focus-challenged child. When he started, it was just him, me and my youngest son. The dance class next door hadn't started, so it was quiet and easy to concentrate; no pressure from the other kids who are having a hard time coping with his challenges. I frankly thought that he wouldn't retain much as his focus is usually SO broken in class and he appears to follow the other students. This little guy had everything down - wrong side, sometimes, but the movement sequence had been memorized. So ... I think he's dyslexic. This little guy doubled his stripes last night!

Next was my female student - she's the star of the show and always shows better alone than with others - her confidence has grown immensely since I met her and she's not afraid of practice and hard work. She also doubled her stripes last night.

While she was finishing up, in comes my autistic student. This child, I have been told, has not been able to be successful in any other program at the center and was only able to manage this class with a one-on-one aide. He tested me in his second class, falling down, refusing to engage, fake-hitting me and anyone who came near him. He kept saying he was "dying" and was tired, so I had him sit down on his butt in the front of the class where I stand for line-up, facing out to watch everyone. If he could sit, be quiet and still, I'd have a special treat for him the next class. The next night, he completed warm-ups with good behavior and I told him he could wear my black belt that night but that he had to act like one - good manners, good stances, standing only and only practicing techniques with other students when it's time. His eyes got SO BIG and he did VERY well; returned my belt, initiated a hug with me, looked at me in the eyes and thanked me without prompting. :D :D :D :D So last night, this child who "couldn't" do anything in that class without a one-on-one assistant and visual aids demonstrated his material to me without any help at all, doubling his stripes towards his next belt.

Back to my focus-challenged child: Tuesday night was particularly difficult for him and he was trying to play-fight with others, couldn't handle some light ribbing or peer-based correction and even tried to stomp off. One person he tried to fight with was my youngest son Jared. Jared copes with the immense pressure of living with a challenged older brother who has delivered much more serious stuff than what this child was putting forward. Jared - who is having his own issues at school, unfortunately - managed to keep his classmate focused, calm and encouraged him. The younger boy was feeling very discouraged as though he would never get any better or make any friends, etcetera ... Jared told him that when he walks out of the room, he reminds himself that he worked as hard as he could that day, that he did the best he could that day, even if he didn't do as well as other days. The younger boy told me last night how much better he felt after Jared encouraged him, complimented him and said it was the reason he came back last night. So my son received some achievement stripes and a character stripe for helping someone in such a fashion.

So where does compassion get us? It gets us to return to our task, it gets us to strive for more, to try one more time, to forge forward through the quagmire that sometimes seems uncrossable.

I love teaching these kids - I learn so much from them.


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