Finding Silver Linings

“Out of adversity comes opportunity.”
— Benjamin Franklin

“Due to the coronavirus, all classes and social gatherings are being suspended until further notice.” Excerpt from an e-mail message from the community Clubhouse Manager, March 11, 2020.

E-mail reply, same day: “No problem. I understand, and it’s the responsible thing to do. I forwarded your message and explained to the club members that there is a silver lining to all of this. Our brains need time to process and consolidate new information, so now they have plenty of time to do that.”

My wife and I reside in a 55 and up development in Colorado, where I teach tai chi as a member of the community Tai Chi Club.

As it became apparent toward the end of March that the governor’s stay at home order would be extended, I began to explore the idea for a video tutorial series. Living in a senior community, we are part of the higher risk group for COVID-19, so facilities such as the clubhouse remain closed as of the date this article was written. I recently uploaded Part 9 of the tai chi video series to YouTube.

The videos have been well received and a learning experience for me. One of the comments I received thanked me because they could see my hand positions more clearly on the video. Bear in mind this comment was from a person who was usually in the front row when we were meeting in person. Humbling. I’ve discovered that watching yourself on video during the editing process is an excellent method to evaluate your teaching because you see yourself from the camera’s (and your students’) perspective. It quickly becomes apparent where improvements are needed.

Another aspect that has become a learning experience for me as well as a better learning experience for our club members is demonstrating and teaching in the mirror image view. After creating the first two videos, I realized that a mirror image view would allow viewers to mirror the movements they see on their devices simply, and it would be easier for them to follow along. Our club is currently learning the Yang 24 Forms.

To address the question about identifying individuals as potential teachers, I look for people who, without prompting, offer to help their fellow students and have a natural inclination to give of themselves. In Dr. Lam’s book, “Teaching Tai Chi Effectively”, he states three attributes of successful teachers: attitude, tai chi skills, and teaching skills. Tai chi and teaching skills can be taught, but the right attitude is critical and invaluable.

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