Instructor Development

Speaking the Language


Michael Warren

January 13, 2022

January 13, 2022

We went right from football into wrestling. And, boy, has it been a learning experience. Because, you see, it is the first time for my son and the first time for me.

One of the biggest challenges has been the language. No, not that kind of language. The language that involves the terminology. “Shot” this, “half” that, and “sprawl” now. Honestly, the first few practices I understood very little of what was going on.

But more important than me, my son struggled to understand what was going on at first. While the terminology used was appropriate for those who have been in the sport for a while, it wasn’t for my kid.

We talked about the new language on the way home from practice one night. I encouraged him to ask the coach for clarification if he didn’t understand. But he was reluctant to do so. He wouldn’t admit it, but I think it’s because he doesn’t want to look “stupid” in the coach’s eyes. I tried explaining to him the coach wouldn’t think that, but he wasn’t buying.

But it got me to wondering – wondering how many times people in my classes didn’t understand what I was talking about. And didn’t say anything. Because they didn’t want to look stupid.

As instructors we should be subject matter experts. Correction – dual subject matter experts. Experts in the topic we are teaching AND experts at effectively communicating that information.

We – I – need to do a better job of this. Using terminology that is not subject to interpretation and clearly represents the topic at hand. In other words, I need to be speaking the language that the students understand.