Become A Great Student

We all take classes, watch demonstrations, or attend clinics because we love our mules, horses and donkeys and we want to improve our skills, confidence, and courage with them.  We want to further our education and develop a better understanding of our stock.  We want to be better, learn more and be successful.  We want to be able to enjoy our animals.  But have you ever taken a class and come away wishing you had gotten more out of it?   

Maybe there were distractions.  The person sitting next to you couldn’t wait to tell you their troubles or life story.  Or even worse, they are telling you how much they know about the subject or giving their own opinion and talking over or disagreeing with the person that is teaching the class.  Maybe you had too much on your mind to focus on the subject matter.  Or simply you couldn’t remember everything that was taught during the class.  I know this because I have been in those situations before.  And all of it can be very distracting and can keep us from getting the most out of the class.  

Being both a student and a teacher, I have benefited from both aspects of the learning process. The teacher is there to share their knowledge with the student and has certain expectations for the student.  The teacher expects them to come to class and be ready to learn, to be an active participant and to apply what they have learned in the lesson by practicing.  The teacher is there to help you succeed.  So, as students how can we improve our own learning and get more out of the classes, demonstrations, and clinics we attend?  How do we become a great student? 

For me it falls into three categories: before, during, and after the lesson.  Once you decide you would like to take a class, do some research before.  Find out about the teacher’s style.  Is this someone you want to watch, learn, and take advice from?  Once you decide to sign up for a class with him or her find out what will be covered in the class.  What are the topics?  Is it something that pertains to what interests you?  Know what you want to get out of the class.

Prepare yourself before you arrive.  Leave your problems and worries at home.  Come with an open mind.  Leave your opinions at the barn and expect to learn something new.  When you arrive turn off your cell phone or put it on silent.  This way it won’t distract you or anyone else. 

Once the class starts stay focused.  If someone is distracting you, move away from them.  It’s your time and money, so make an effort to get the most out of it.  Apply yourself and become actively involved with one hundred percent commitment during the class.  Take notes!  This for me is one of the most important steps to be a great student.  

When I first started going to Ray Hunts clinics, I took notes every chance I could get.  Often, I would find that I wasn’t remembering the content exactly correct.  The words he used or the little things that helped me remember or connect the dots.  But I had my notes to help me refresh my memory.  I have been able to look back at those notes over the years remember the little things that slip through our minds.  I still have those notes today.  There is so much information that happens in a few days there is no way to remember everything exactly.

Ask questions and get clarification!  Ask for help with your specific problems.  Do not ask for advice if you have no intention of taking it.  We need to be open minded and be willing to accept what the person might be there to teach us.  Take the advice if you like it; if you don’t then leave it alone.  At least give yourself the opportunity to do one or the other.  

Be open minded because if you are going to stick with your own opinion it doesn’t do any good to show up and ask for someone else’s opinion anyway.  So be willing to listen and apply or to consider those changes that might be necessary.  And know we all can always learn more or perfect our skills no matter where we are in our education.  

After, when you get home review your notes within 24 hours.  You might remember more than what you wrote down.  Build an outline, create a plan, and use it.  Be willing to try something new or be willing to consider changes to make improvements.  

As I mentioned, I’m a student and I consider myself a great student.  Do you know what the difference is between a good student and a great student? A good student is a person that studies during class.  A great student is a person that studies in between classes.  So, become that great student.  You will get a lot more out of your lessons and they will have more meaning to you.

I also think it motivates the person that you are learning from when the students are more engaged.  It’s much easier to teach someone that wants to learn and who shows it.  And for the student it is easier to learn when you are engaged.  So, the next time that you can go and work with someone be prepared, be attentive and serious, apply yourself and be willing to work toward your goals before, during, and after.  

Please feel free to call me @ (760) 403-3922 or email if you have any questions.  I’d be happy to help anyway I can.  Enjoy spending time with your mule, horse, or donkey.  Have fun and don’t get a kick out of it!

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