Time Management Tips for Canoe or Kayak Instructors

We have all been there. There is only an hour left in your lesson but you have two hours of material left to teach. Where did the time go?

A sign of a good instructor is the ability to keep on top of your lesson plan and finish things off in the allotted amount of time. With one eye on the students and the other on her watch, the instructor can keep the lesson going without getting flustered or stressed that she behind schedule.

Below is a set of random tips and ideas to help you manage your time while out teaching this summer:

Lesson Planning

  • Write your lesson plan out on paper in a chronological order throughout the day so you don’t need to waste time trying to find your place while on the water.
  • When planning your lessons, be realistic in how long something is going to take or learn. Travel and paddle time always takes longer then you think and don’t forget to take into account wind and a beginners paddling pace.

Teaching Time

  • Streamline housekeeping. If your students need to fill out paperwork at the beginning of the course encourage them to get there early to take care of it before the course starts. As students finish up their paperwork use that time to learn names and morning expectations.
  • Set realistic time expectations with your students. Let them know how much time they have for lunch so they are back on time. Tell them your goal is to be on the water in x number of minutes so they know if they have time to find that last minute item in the trunk of their car.
  • Watch your travel time on the water as it eats up a lot of time very quickly. Don’t move your class unless you need to.
  • Getting on and off the water always takes twice as long as you think it does (did I mention that before?).
  • Try to teach your on-land segments at the same time (just before or just after lunch) to minimize water/land transition time.
  • If you need to paddle for a short distance to your planned teaching location, watch and lean how long it takes. It’s important to know how long the paddle home is going to take!
  • Take advantage of class downtime for quick mini lessons. For example, lunchtime is a great time for a fast weather or safety lesson.
  • When your students are off practising their newly learned skill take a moment look ahead in your lesson plan to figure out what’s next. That will help keep the lesson momentum from stalling out.
  • Watch your mouth. If you are running out of time it’s likely because you are talking too much. Start with the goal to cut your talking down by half then go from there.
  • If your class runs over two days, hand out homework for them to read. It’s great for theory topics and other easily digestible material.
  • If you realize you are running out of time and can’t teach everything in your lesson quickly prioritize and teach only what you can. Is there anything that you can get students to read or learn via a follow-up email later?
  • At the end of the day make note of what worked and what took more time then you thought. This will allow you to properly adjust your schedule as necessary next time.

Got other time saving ideas? Post them in the comments area below.

Photo credit: Canoe Instruction at Sunnyside / Bobcatnorth (Away) / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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