Creating a Learning Environment

It was hard to leave home again last Wednesday to head to my current teaching post in Finland, especially hard to leave Buzzy. Although he is much better I can’t help but feel the stress of me leaving may be contributing to his distress, but then I remember how very much Buzz loves John and I am better about it.

Last week I was near Parma, Italy and we have five awesome days of workshops (well in my humble opinion they were:). Teaching a workshop is a lot like training a dog. You can be excited to inspire brilliance when you begin but if the energy is not reciprocated it becomes less like a fun that fills you up, and more like work that drains you. Last week the Italians put all the passion they are famous for into their work, and to think how difficult it was to get me to Italy.

 

 

Michaela works 360 spins.

 

 

It started over two years ago when my now friend Michaela emailed me and asked me to Italy. I turned her down.  I am busy and as much as I love to teach, I am making an attempt to be home more. She tried again, again I said no. So poor Michaela, who doesn’t speak English hussled herself up an interpreter and flew to Canada to observer two camps (Puppy and Skills). In person, she asked once more if I would come to Italy and I, of course, could not turn her down:).

 

 

Young Handler from Rome.

A youngh handler from Rome.

 

 

I have no regrets. While teaching there, I saw many talented handlers from not just the Italian world team, but other countries as well including one of the best from the Czech Republic. In the past when I have other successful agility competitors in my workshop, many of them have had an arrogance about them. Often appearing impatient with what I am teaching, sighing deeply, checking their phone messages or constantly getting up and leaving the sessions as if “they know it all.”  It brings me to mind of a quote my friend Helen King says “Excuses prevent advancement and so do big fat egos”.

 

Italian World Team member and his up and coming dog play the collar grab game.

Collar grab game fun!

 

Let me tell you this was NOT the case in Italy. This crowd, some high calibre World Championship medal winning competitors, came to learn and each of them played FULL OUT! By that I mean they were not afraid to show vulnerability and learn from me. They didn’t try to pretend they didn’t need any help, they allowed themselves to fail in front of the large group that was there and didn’t then bow out and not play again after a failure.

In my opinion that is “owning yourself”, knowing who you are. It is true confidence in your own abilities and understanding that exploring today’s limitations opens you up to tomorrow’s strengths. These people where authentic, they didn’t try to hide anything, therefore I think they opened themselves up to the best learning opportunities possible.   Although already “heroes” in their homeland, they came to learn and they squeezed every opportunity to do so out of the five days of workshops.

To be honest, it scares me a bit. They are already world-class runners and handlers, now improving their dog training may put them to a new level of accomplishment! The truth is, the way I look at it is if I can push an already successful competitor to be better, in the end, it makes me better because I WILL raise my game to continue to be in the hunt to be the best.

Today I am grateful for keen students and new friends. I will go back to Italy soon, it was incredibly reinforcing for me and I am not referring to the money I earned.

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