How many times have you seen something a student was doing wrong and wanted to somehow separate that student from himself so he could watch what was being done? With the popularity of the VCR we can now do this. We are all aware of how a VCR can help improve handling technique by video taping trial performances. There are many other ways video taping can help in class instructing.
For a correction to be effective, it must be given as the dog is thinking about doing something and before he commits to doing it. An experienced handler can read the subtleties in the dog’s behavior that signal these actions, but the novice handler may not realize what is going on until after the dog has committed to his transgression. The VCR can be used too in a set-up situation so that the handler can see what we see. In doing so we can point out when to give the correction or simply get the dog’s attention.
Another area is evaluating jumping and movement problems. When establishing a take off point, the dog should approach the jump in stride and not have to adjust his steps. Taping the dog can help establish a proper take off point. If a dog appears to have difficulty jumping, it may be that the rear or shoulders are weak. This will show up on tape and will help the student and instructor evaluate the problem.
One difficulty is that filming and evaluation takes time, more than what is available in a class session. An alternative is to take a Saturday afternoon and devote it to filming and evaluation. You are not under any time constraint and do not have to worry that you are taking time away from other students. In addition, if it is optional, the students who are not really interested do not have to attend. If there is a problem student, a private session can always be arranged.
Thus far we have looked at how the student can improve his training technique from video taping. The instructor can also improve his teaching using videotape. Try taping one of your classes concentrating on the instructor. How well does the instructor present his material? Can his appearance or delivery be improved? Are topics or important points overlooked?
Training groups might think about making tapes of how each instructor teaches a given exercise and creating a library, which would be available to new instructors and assistants to review, and study. Each instructor has his own way of teaching which can benefit the new instructor. One of the big things to overcome is being self-conscious about seeing oneself on the tube. We are probably more critical of ourselves than others would be. Consider it a learning experience and don’t worry about it.
The VCR provides a variety of ways to improve training as well as instructing ability and is something that should be looked into if you don’t mind being a TV star.
©1987 W. Herbert Morrison, III