Want to deliver a consistent and effect lesson, ensure you remember that action trumps words.

I was teaching handgun from the front when I noticed a skilled student with an impressive professional background completing the exercise by mock shooting into the ground three times just in front of his partner/attacker.

I thought it was a misinterpetation on my part the first time I spotted the action, but I decided to enquire after seeing the student repeat the sequence with his next repetition.

After my inquiry, the student reminded me that I had done the same maneuver near the end of class several weeks earlier. I remembered. The movement was in jest – as an alternative to mock shooting the attacker, I made a joke about making the attacker dance. While I said in the moments just after that jest some words to the effect of “no, don’t do that”, the movement (not my words) stuck.

I recall being told multiple times during my instructor training to ensure I rarely taught with a negative (incorrect) example and to never end an explanation with movement that was inconsistent with the proper way to compete the exercise. So, there I was, hat in my hand, explaining to the class that we shooting the ground “to make the attacker dance” was not really my process.

Remember, this golden rule of teaching – students remember the last thing you do, not say. Demonstrate properly, avoid hyperbole or obscure references, and ensure you have clear process to move the students from watching/listening into action.

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