Getting a First Course Started – One Way

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    Here’s just one relaxed way to approach it.

    1. Decide that you’ll volunteer your time and your first course will be free (or by donation to some cause you support). 

    2. Then think of who you could easily offer the course to and where you could teach them.

    • Location and Students Option 1 –  Your Friends – Invite any and all of your friends (family, workmates, classmates, etc.) to come to your or another friend’s house each week for 10 weeks for a class and a potluck. Make it a nice social event for your personal social community.
    • Location and Students Option 2 – Local Gathering Places – What about your local library – or co-op – or where you work – or church – or _______ (brainstorm this with friends and family and fill in the blank for other obvious gathering places in your community). Ask them if they have a room for community events where you could offer a free course. Set up the dates and times, and then put up posters all around that building – and in their newsletter – and around town to let the people that frequent the place know about it. Send a notice to everyone whose email you have, and pursue social media in all ways that are easy for you.
    You can see the organizing principle here. Figure out locations where there are groups of people who already know you or which have people who you can easily connect with. It’s usually easiest to organize a course in a location where people are already or want to be, so it’s very little effort for them to get there, e.g. at or near their workplace, their school, where they shop, where they bank, etc. etc. Also, people like places where they think they might already know someone else attending.
    If you’re not a natural organizer, but you know someone that is, get them interested in taking the course and ask them to help you let others’ know about it.  
    3. Now come up with a syllabus for the course. If you like, simply follow the syllabus I used for my ten-week online course. Just simplify it, though, and figure out what is really essential in each week for the type of beginners you anticipate teaching. It’s far better to teach too little detail than too much. You want your students to feel successful and not frustrated or overwhelmed.
    Part of my reason for creating that course, was to demonstrate one way to teach the basics of D&T, and to model what I hope is good teaching for D&T Instructors like you. As I taught each lesson, I was sharing my knowledge of how I’d found I could most effectively teach that material, gathered over twenty years of teaching thousands of students. (Naturally since I filmed the course I have learned – from teaching more and from other instructors – how to teach things even better.)
    Or  another way to develop your syllabus is to ask the folks on this forum who’ve already done courses to share their syllabi. The more syllabi we share with each other, the more we’ll all see how we can adapt and mold the material to our students’ needs.
    4. Now hold your first class. Don’t care how many people show up. It’s not important who doesn’t show up. It’s really important to focus on who does.
    As I say in my classes when only two people show up (yes, that still happens to me sometimes), “This is great. All the important people are here,” and I smile. And if another person then wanders in, I say “Excellent, another important person is here.” This helps them all relax about being in a small class. 
    You will have done what you could to get people in the door. So put aside all thoughts about that, and teach the people who come the best you can. What else can you do?
    And if you make the effort to get folks in and only one or two persons show up, teach them the best that you can and then ask them if they want to continue. If they do, then you have your course.
    To really have a “group class” you need at least 3 people (1 or 2 is really a private lesson). But if you make a real and concerted effort to get more and only get 1, go forward with it. I’ve taught hundreds of 1 person “group” classes because that’s who showed up. It was in those classes that I really learned to teach, because I would teach something, observe whether they got some sense of it, and then ask them what their experience was of trying to do what I said. I could have conversations with them that I could never have in a class with 3 or more people.
    And if your class fizzles out completely, that’s also okay. Reflect on what you could have tried differently or done better and try again.

    The key point here is give it a try, and then do the best you can.
     One thing newly certified instructors have told us is that they’ve had fun teaching. I say, have fun, or why bother?

    Delightfully honest Bill!
    From my perspective, I couldn’t earn a living doing it this way, so I wait until I have at least 8 or preferably 10 people wanting to learn Dragon and Tiger, by strongly publicising and running a couple of free tasters and taking names. Then I ask for money up front for a course, at which point I normally end up with 8, but occasionally only 6 people. I run the courses as fortnightly sessions of two hour classes during which we have a lot of fun and the group bonds. At the end, often the course runs into several terms and a beginners group stays together for 9 months, I give students the option to join a big weekly 1 hour D&T class or a smaller fortnightly 2 hour one, or both, if they want to continue in a group format. Both are in different locations on different days. This has been working for many years. D&T is only one component of what we teach but, (and I think this is significant), it is not the simplest system that we teach at Longwater Tai Chi. most students attend a much simpler format drop-in class, which gives us a feeder group to point to D&T or traditional tai chi or meditation etc if they want something more complex.
    Btw we live in the middle of a rural area and travel quite a distance to teach. Our school runs 19 regular classes a week plus weekend workshops and retreats.

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