USA Karate is creating a series that seeks to learn how our member clubs have been successful over the past few months. With dojos being closed, it has forced clubs to be creative in the ways that they teach. While virtual learning has been a common tool used among dojos, it is how dojos have utilized it and how they’ve gone beyond traditional teaching practices that really stands out. We reached out to North Shore Dojo to learn how they’ve approached a newfound style of teaching.
Describe the impact that virtual learning has had on your dojo. What are your plans for virtual learning in the future?
The impact of virtual teaching on our dojo has been felt by every student and every teacher we employ. It is a VERY different thing! We closed our doors on March 15 and only stayed closed for the remainder of the month. During that time, we were at a loss as for what to do! By April 1, we came up with the plan of offering Zoom classes and Facetime/Zoom private lessons. On April 1st, we rolled out four classes a day six days a week plus scheduled private lessons. It was a HUGE learning curve and transition for us!
The North Shore Dojo is a smaller dojo, with a total of about 100 students, all in, and we've always been totally "in person", not using technology at all. One thing this time has taught us, is that technology is our friend. With the use of virtual learning, we have picked up students from out of town and families that have moved away, in addition to our regulars.
Following this success, we have decided to keep ZOOM-ing forever! Now that we have invested the time and money into the set-up, with a dedicated laptop, a huge TV, ear pods, and such, we decided that it makes sense to move into a Hybrid model for the indefinite future. We will teach small groups of kids in the room, say 4-5, and then have everyone else on Zoom. In each class, there will be a dedicated Zoom teacher or assistant, as well as a teacher in the room. It's a little more work logistically, but well worth, in our opinion.
How else has your dojo been successful while in-person classes are unavailable?
We have had success with social media, using and making YouTube instructional videos, advertising on Facebook, promoting our zoom classes on Facebook and Instagram, and making every effort to keep our students/clients engaged and moving during the pandemic.
Since 50% of our dojo is encompassed by athletes with disabilities, scheduling and consistency are very critical. We tried our best to keep their classes at the same time, on the same days, and teach them the same methods, just over Zoom. In some cases, it was very successful, and in others, especially with our athletes with Autism, it wasn't as easy. There were a lot of phone calls and zoom privates to make our best effort to keep folks moving forward in their karate journey.
Athlete Shout out!
Over the past few months, we've had many athletes step up to be leaders. One that comes to mind is Ava Brenner, age 13, who has faithfully attended zoom classes 5-6 days a week, the entire time. She is a Sempai and takes her leadership role seriously, leading Zoom exercises and drills. We are so grateful to you, Ava!
Thank you to North Shore Dojo for sharing your experience with the entire USA Karate family! We look forward to seeing what you accomplish in the future with your new virtual learning journey.
Learn More about North Shore Dojo: https://www.north-shore-dojo.com