Taking online classes can sometimes be challenging! On the upside, you tend to get access to some really talented instructors and you get lecture material that covers aspects that you might not learn locally. In some cases, you might not have local options but you can STILL learn virtually! On the downside, if you are busy and have a lot of demands on your time, it can be really easy to pay for a class and never really use it. It's not that you lack desire…. But it can feel SO overwhelming that you just don't train.
I get it…. Which is why I wanted to write this blog!
I started my FDSA education in the second ever term offered by Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. I remember it well! I was enrolled in an Obedience Problem Solving class co-taught by Denise Fenzi and Nancy Gagliardi Little. I was hooked. That was June 2013. In June 2015 I became an instructor for the Nosework program. Before I started to teach I took A LOT of classes and learned a ton. After I started to teach and my time started to get stretched in other ways, I focused more on my own sport and less on the other classes in the Academy. Oh I TRIED to take some classes at Gold more recently…. I always had good intentions! I have these young, driven dogs who need more than Nosework! But time and time again, I would sign up and then drop out of posting very quickly.
Except for this term.
Techniques that Helped Me Be a Good Online Student
This term, I am taking two Gold classes in addition to teaching my full plate of Nosework classes. Brava, my 4 year old Lab, is in DS340 with Sara Brueske in order to learn a new to us sport of Disc. Prize, my 8 month old Lab, is in OB320 with Julie Symons to enhance Obedience foundations through games. Here it is…. Week 5 AND I'M STILL ACTIVELY POSTING!!
I think I found "the formula" and when Melissa was looking for blog posts, I thought that this would be a GREAT topic! I normally write on Nosework, but THIS time I'm writing to give you ideas on how to be a "good student."
The FIRST thing that you need to know is that you ARE already a "good student." You have desire to learn and grow. Being inquisitive is the most important aspect of being a Good Student. You don't need to become a Good Student, because you already are one.
Secondly, you need to start to be kind to yourself and recognize that you have a busy life. Most of us do! When we beat ourselves up, logging on to read and explore the lectures can almost feel aversive. By being kind to ourselves, we can take the inner monologue of guilt out of the picture.
Next, I want to share a secret with you…. Instructors write their/our courses to give you A LOT of value for your money. We know that some of our students may be focused on one sport, or have more time, or fewer dogs…. So most of our classes are FULL of intense education…. But we DO NOT expect that all of our students, even a large portion of our students, will finish the entire course in 6 weeks. Some do! But part of the secret to success is in NOT comparing yourself to someone who posts all the time and gets all the homework done.
The secret of success is in making the material perfect for YOU. That means going at YOUR pace in a way that is meaningful for YOU.
The hard part about that sentiment is the "Yeah, but" that creeps into all of our minds. We KNOW that we need to go at our own pace. Where we fail, is in execution. And THAT is what I figured out this term!
This term, I decided to get tactical in my training…. Some approaches that have worked for me:
- After reading the lecture, I would pick ONLY ONE step or skill to work on. Not two, not three…. ONE.
- I would plan on recording a short training session and commit to a video of less than 1:00. Since I was working ONE skill, it was doable.
- After feedback, I would try the next SINGLE step or skill.
Choosing Just ONE Thing...
And here it is, Week 5 and I went from throwing the frisbee and hitting the house, to working on footwork and leading skills. I may not be ready to put together a freestyle routine at the end of class but I can CONFIDENTLY throw a disc for Brava. I have lectures to keep me going after class and I'm looking forward to trying the games in UpDog! Prize is doing GREAT too! And on top of that, my success in fitting in training has me now training Powder, my 2 year old, in Obedience. Right now, we are working through some of Shade Whitesel's flashy heeling class! I'm super excited to see the girls make progress in other sports.
My next step in becoming a more EFFECTIVE student is keeping a basic planner. Did you see what I did there? I replaced "Good Student" with "Effective Student"…. Words matter!
I am simply going to work off of a grid. I did get fancy and order a customized planner from Plum Paper…. But you don't need to! Days of the week are the columns and dog names are the rows. Then I just write down the ONE THING that each dog will work on that day.
ONE THING is the key…
If you are struggling to become an Effective Student, try it…. Just ONE THING.