We have a confession. When we have good news to share, we try to publicise it far and wide. We work hard and so do our students, so we like to tell the world! When a student has a setback, maybe we are not quite so upfront. We are not embarrassed and certainly not untruthful. We just don’t shout from the rooftops, usually to protect the student’s feelings. They are already feeling fragile and disappointed.
What we do do, is support them privately and encourage them to turn the situation around into a positive. We can honestly say every one of our students who has failed, who has persevered with it, not given up at the first hurdle, shown the grit and character to go back and try again, has become a far better martial artist. Not just physically but mentally too. They know what it feels like to fail. I do too. They know the courage it takes to go back to class, feeling a bit sheepish or even annoyed. They also know that nobody judged or laughed. Everyone helped, encouraged and allowed them to continue to develop. Those that return to class, and applaud their peers who were successful, despite their own disappointment, are a special kind of person.
What we know for sure is that not-passing-everything-first-time doesn’t make you a bad student. We like to think it doesn’t reflect on us as teachers either! Sometimes you just have an off day. Sometimes the nerves are too much. Sometimes a new instruction in the grading that you don’t know (and you’re actually not expected to know) makes you lose your confidence. That’s what happened to me. The point is you must learn from it. It’s ok to make a mistake in a grading. Just don’t let it put you off your stride competely.
Of course we only put students up for a grading if we think they are ready. But it is never a done deal.
So our confession is, we don’t all pass first time. And we think that’s ok.