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Swim Teachers' Series 1

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

Teachers' kit bag series - striving for success in 2022.

Welcome to our first Swim Teacher series that has 5 weekly episodes giving you ideas to help you strive for success in 2022.

In the next 5 weeks we will explore the following topics:

Week 1 (see below): What makes you an authentic teacher . What is your USP (Unique Selling Point)?

Week 2: Dive in and get to grips with S.W.I.M. Taking a peek at the four different fundamental zones - Sensory. Water. Interaction. Movement.

Week 3: Purposeful play. How to provide an essential learning environment for children up to seven years old.

Week 4: Essential equipment. What equipment and props are essential for using during any lesson and in a multitude of ways.

Week 5: Bones of lesson planning. How to design a quick cheat sheet as a working/roll on document for the lessons you take.

I would like to introduce myself. I am Helen Hughes, I am a mum, a wife and I was a competitive swimmer in my youth. I have a sport science degree and I am a qualified FE school teacher. In 2022 it will be my 28th year teaching swimming. I am one half of the business, the other half is my sister, Kathryn Charlton. She has years of experience as a primary school teacher and been in marketing and communications for over 20 years. She is also a mum.

Kathryn and I formed Mini Water Adventurers back in 2019 and as the name suggests, we provide a safe and engaging water environment where every mini swimmer has an amazing adventure every time they visit the swimming pool with us.

We use playful, interactive themes with carefully chosen props/toys that ignite imagination and in the world of Charlotte Mason - our lessons are like "live stories". I absolutely love being creative when it comes to my swimming lessons and with over a decade of child development research, we are progressive swimming educators/facilitators. Our 'Learn 2 SWIM' programme (you will find out more about this next week) is fused with Rudolph Steiner (Waldorf), Maria Montessori, Friedrich Froebel and Charlotte Mason learning philosophies.

The uniqueness of a child is respected and we are tuned into the fact that each mini swimmer have different needs and capabilities.

I teach babies, right through to 7 years old. Not only are we educating the children, but also the parents/caregivers too.

I have also designed the Orca swim trainer (I will explain in week four the equipment session more about what is and why I designed it ). Briefly it is an all in one learn to swim aid for children 2-7 years old. It has been available to purchase since July 2021 and tried and tested with hundreds of very happy children during 2019.

What makes you an authentic teacher? What is your USP?

What makes you an authentic teacher? What is your USP?

Take some time now to write a list of what comes to mind.

After that, complete this questionnaire to find out "what style of teacher you are".

Note that the "style" will not automatically pop up once you have submitted it( sorry it is a bit of an old fashioned questionnaire, but it is worth doing). Make a note of your answers at step one then you will use those for step 2.

What was your style?

  • The official curriculum teacher

  • The big conference teacher

  • The all-round flexible & adaptive teacher

  • The one-off teacher

  • The straight facts no nonsense teacher

  • The student-centered, sensitive teacher

Mohanna, an educational specialist, defined the all-round flexible teacher as one who "can use lots of different skills effectively, can teach both peers and juniors, and is very aware of the way that the whole environment affects both teachers and learners" (Mohanna, Chambers, & Wall, 2008, p. 23).

The sensitive student-centered teacher is "very student centered, prefers teaching in small group, with emotions to the fore using role play and drama, and is not comfortable doing straight presentations" (Ibid., p. 146). The official formal curriculum teacher is very well prepared as a teacher and teaches according to the formal curriculum (Ibid., p. 42). Wall stated that the straight facts, no-nonsense teacher "likes to teach the clear facts with straight talking, concentrating on specific skills, and much prefers not to be involved with multi- professional teaching and learning'' (Ibid., p. 53). According to Chambers, the big conference teacher likes "to stand up in front of a big audience and does not like sitting in groups or one to one teaching" (Ibid., p. 62). The one-off teacher likes to deliver small bits of teaching with no support or follow-up.

Now look back at your list you made initially. Does it reflect what you thought?

With so many swim schools that families have access to - council, independent and franchises - how is your teaching style determined by your environment and a reflection of the swimming lessons you offer?

Apart from your initial teaching qualification, what other courses, workshops, research have you conducted? Have you been to observe other teachers at different pools in your area, around your county or even around your country (or internationally)?

I know from my experience, growth and finding my USP, the way I teach has changed and evolved over time. How I taught during my lessons when I first started back in 1994 to when I had my swim school in Florida, USA (from 2006-2016) is quite different from my teaching style today here in the UK.

Here are a few quotes from Einstein that I find is quite fitting:

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge".

"Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them".

"Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value".

"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions".

In next week’s blog I will dive into what the S.W.I.M zones are and why we think it is important to be equipped with all the fundamentals.

You can find us on Facebook - SWIM education group with 1,600 teachers from all over the world.

Please do check our website out too.


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