(that also have nothing to do with this throwback picture )
When things shut down- I thought there was NO WAY kids could learn karate online.
It’s a physical sport that often requires instructors to physically move a student’s foot or hand.
So when the world shutdown back in March.. I thought we were screwed.
Not only can kids NOT learn online, but there’s no way that we’re going to be able to keep their attention.
I distinctly remember pacing in my parents’ backyard thinking “what now?”
I knew that we couldn’t leave our students stranded.
But at the same time, the news was extremely discouraging.
Everything started to close.. Schools, businesses… everything Next, came the texts and calls from dozens of our students telling us that they “need to take a break until this whole thing is over”
(which I thought was gonna be at most a month, lol)
Everything we’d built was falling apart.
Nevertheless, we couldn’t sit on our hands and hope things eventually worked out.
So we started working.
Like deranged karate zombies on a mission to save our schools, and our livelihoods, we worked 65+ hr weeks just to survive.
In the beginning, our online classes weren’t great.
Zoom was a new tool, and now we had to learn how to teach hundreds of kids on this new platform (many with mild to severe learning challenges), from behind a laptop.
Our lighting wasn’t great, links wouldn’t work, our audio was even worse.
But people stuck with us through the growing pains.
My suspicion that people couldn’t learn karate online was about as faulty as my idea that this whole corona thing would be over in a couple of months.
Now, our classes are better than ever because we discovered these 3 secrets to teaching kids online. The class must be interactive. Can people learn from recorded videos, absolutely, but we’ve found that when teaching online for an extended period of time, if you want to keep someone engaged, you have to be interactive in LIVE classes. There’s something special when a student feels “noticed” by their teacher. Class must be fun! People are accustomed to using screen time for entertainment, so the class must be fun. “In person” classes you can get away with some boring drilling, but for online, the class must be fun and exciting. Get dressed as if you were “in person.” There’s a nice feeling about putting on your “gi,” or maybe your “workout clothes” that helps you get in the right mindset. Even if you’re taking classes online, make sure to get dressed appropriately, as if you were with the person. And that’s what I’ve learned teaching karate online! Or teaching anything online really.
As a bonus, if there is something “physical” that you can connect to the virtual, that makes it even better!
So the fact that our students can earn real belts, and practice real weapons that gets shipped to their house, is a great way to bridge the gap between “virtual” and “in person” training.
By Matthew Brenner