The greatest lessons in life tend to come from challenging experiences. In 300 words or fewer, please tell us about a challenging experience you have faced and what you have learned from it.
This past summer I worked for two months as an assistant tennis coach, teaching 80 inner city youths in Toronto. The children ranged in age from 5-15 and came from different cultural backgrounds and spoke a variety of languages. I had very little experience teaching tennis, let alone teaching youth that had not even known what tennis was before they attended the camp. I was nervous about my inexperience, but learned that with practice comes confidence. By inventing games and making it fun I was able to create a positive atmosphere for the children. Midway through the summer my partner quit, and I was abruptly promoted to Head Coach. As a result, I was responsible for the entire program. I realized that to be successful I needed to understand the overall picture and the intentions of the program and set goals for the summer. I found that by creating a schedule and maintaining my poise from day to day, I was able to take charge and keep the kids interested and involved. To maintain control of the children single-handedly and keep them on track I had to be innovative and assertive; to motivate them I had to make sure that I balanced discipline with encouragement.
As I gained experience and relaxed into my role I was more able to enjoy the children and families that I had the pleasure of meeting. Due to my adaptability, work ethic and success with the children, I was offered the Head Instructor position for next summer.
As I look back on my summer experience, I enjoyed taking on the responsibility of leadership. I learned that people follow confident leaders and that confidence comes from being well prepared. I also learned that sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves and work hard.
Jonathan Keilhauer, PhilPott Instructor