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The Three Kinds of Teachers: Which One Are You?

By Christopher Rappold


The successful retention of students in a martial arts school is of paramount importance. It saves the school money by cutting down on monthly advertising budgets and replacing them with free referrals. It increases the cash flow by creating happier students who stay and train for longer. And it enables staff members and owners to earn a higher pay for the great services they provide.

All around, everyone wins when retention is high and the quit rate is low. But if this makes so much sense, then why, for some, does it seem to be so hard to do?

One answer to this that I would like to explore is the quality of the teacher. As you may well know, if you replace a bad teacher with a good one, all of a sudden, a school that was limping along will start to grow.

Conversely, I have seen a great teacher replaced by a teacher who was only “good” and the exact opposite happened. Perhaps you have seen the same. So, what is it that makes the difference between one instructor and another? How can you quantify teaching quality?

I want to share with you three levels of growth that a teacher may or may not go through on his/her way to realizing their potential. I say, “may or may not” because, perhaps for some, even with the right desire, may not have the intangibles to excel.


The Good Teacher

Being a “good teacher” is the first level. I start with this level since it seemed to me that if someone couldn’t reach this level at a minimum, he/she wouldn’t be teaching at all.

A “good teacher” delivers information. He or she knows the subject matter, has the ability to break down techniques, knows what to say and can create the structure and appearance of an organized class. When I think of this, I use it as a baseline qualification.


The Great Teacher

Being a “great teacher,” to me, is one step above good. A teacher who reaches this status has all the qualities of a good teacher. The difference is that he/she looks at teaching not just as a transfer of information but a transfer of energy.

You can have two classes side by side, both learning the same information, but the feel of the classes, depending on who is instructing, is totally different. The “great teacher” infuses energy into the lesson. Since energy comes in many different forms, this teacher matches his/her personality to the correct kind of energy to have the greatest effect.

Even an introverted instructor can get a student to feel energy. But it will be conveyed very differently than it would be from the extroverted, excitable teacher.

Great teachers must remain authentic to who they are at the core. They must play the personality hand they were dealt or their career will be very short-lived.


The Remarkable Teacher

The final level — and one that is just magical to watch — is the “remarkable teacher.”

The remarkable teacher has all the qualities of the first two. He/she knows the techniques and can organize a class. He is congruent, matching the style of energy to his personality. And he has an uncanny ability to combine all of this with the skill to meet the students where they are and grow their potential.

The “remarkable teacher” sees even more in the students than they do themselves. Then, he/she uses this vision to set a new standard for the student.

These three simple levels, often unrecognizable to the untrained eye, make all the difference in the world with the students and the success of the school.

Remember, “good teachers” deliver information. “Great teachers” transfer energy. “Remarkable teachers” meet a student’s potential where it is. They then share information with the right amount of energy to grow the individual’s access to their full potential.

Which level are the teachers at your school? Think through each instructor and rate where they are. Help train them up to the next level. It will make a profound difference within your school.

Let’s all continue to be successful together!


Chris Rappold can be reached for questions or comments at [email protected]

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