Friday, 21 November 2008

Number's Up!

What was that I wrote about Wetherby being down on numbers last few weeks?
Cue Victor Meldrew impersonation; "I don't believe it!"
This week in Wetherby numbers were through the ceiling as we had 17 brand new beginners! This is a new record for us and in fact we had more brand newbies than we had "experienced" beginners so ended up throwing everyone in together for a basic class. Beginners who were expecting to cover "Casino" this week, please accept my apologies (we'll do it again in 7 weeks time) and also my thanks for your indulgence. I had one slightly disappointed leader ask if he could do our level 2 class as he felt level 1 had been a bit of a nothing for him. Sadly he asked me right before we started and we like to put our beginners through their paces before we move them up so he couldn't move up this week. Cheeky fella then proceeded to watch (and follow) the class from the sidelines, practising with a friend. From what I could see, he's going to be moving up next week!
I hope he stays with us when he does. A couple of years ago we had one bloke desperate to move up for months but he really struggled to make the grade. He'd used to go to other classes and tell us about how he'd managed ok, yet he'd still struggle to successfully lead our beginners syllabus.
When he eventually cracked it and moved up to our level 2 class, he only did about two weeks before he slung his hook and we haven't seen him back since. Maybe he was just seeking our recognition? There's no understanding some folk. I'm glad he hasn't given up dancing though - I see him around the circuit every now and again and always give him a nod and a smile.
If you're reading this, why not tip me a nod and a smile too?
Catch yer laters

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Driving Passion II

Four weeks ago today, following a two day induction course with the AA Driving School (following qualification as a DSA Approved Driving Instructor, following months of study and training), I started work as a driving instructor. Well, I say started work but in truth, I didn't actually "teach" anyone until the Saturday of the following week, when I had a lesson with the first of my AA allocated pupils. The pupil concerned was a very pleasant young lady called Claire who had already done a considerable amount of training and had her test booked in a couple of weeks. One lesson with me and she cancelled all further lessons and decided to go it alone! Either I was brilliant or I was crap! (I'm thinking crap). There was loads of stuff in that lesson I didn't do very well, suffice to say I learnt from the experience though I do feel I let Claire down a bit, as she didn't get brilliant value for money, that particular Saturday morning.

My next pupil was another partly trained lady, who despite the fact that I'd rectified many of my faults from the previous outing and did a much better job, also had one lesson with me before cancelling all further lessons. This time I didn't have to blame my poor lesson technique. The lady concerned was a field engineer working away from home and she was called back to her head office before we got the chance to do any more together.

Since then, it's been getting better. I've now got several pupils who I'm teaching from scratch, and three or four more who are partly trained who seem to be happy with the service I'm providing (one of whom had one lesson with me then promptly booked two hours a day for the next 11 days!).

It was a big jump, leaving a "secure" career and regular dayjob, but so far, at least now it's started to pick up a bit, it's paying dividends in terms of job satisfaction. I love to see how pleased the learners are when they start to get the hang of it, though it's not without its risks, too. One of the areas I only glossed over in my training was use of dual controls, and I wondered if I'd be up to it when the need arose. I needn't have worried. Earlier this week the learner in the driving seat next to me seemed intent on getting us both mown down by a 40 ton articulated truck as he happily attempted to pull out in front of it, and my feet responded pretty damn fast when my I realised my life (and his) was on the line.

At the moment, despite only teaching 19 hours this last week, I seem to be a lot busier than when I had a "regular" job, as I'm also spending loads of time on admin as I set up my new business and get used to all the new procedures, plus the time I spend driving the local roads searching out suitable locations on which to take my learners. Once I've found my feet a bit, this should ease off considerably and hopefully I'll be able to spend a bit more time with my family, though already I'm getting home at lunchtime most days, which I never once did when I worked in an office 55 miles away!

This is such a joy as Luca particularly is going through a phase where he seems to be developing really quickly and I don't want to miss it. He's been building up a vocabulary for over a year, but recently he's been putting much more in context and actually holding conversations where he answers questions. I don't expect anyone who hasn't got their own children to understand this ("great, so he can hold a conversation!") but I know other parents will totally relate to my sentiments. He is such a dlight to Trisha and I, and Ben, bless his cotton socks (which can't seem to stay on for more than five minutes) is still the smiley-est baby I've ever come across, despite being plagued with ill-health (currently bronchiolitis for the last month or so) for most of his life so far. He's six months old next week. Where did that go?

On a completely different subject, can anyone explain to me why when numbers at our York Club are going through the roof, Wetherby has dropped off big-time? I'll never understand the dynamics of the change of numbers of people at salsa clubs. I still vividly remember one week at Wetherby a little over a year ago when we only got 11 people through the door all evening! We were back to over 30 the following week and so we asked people what they'd bee up to. No big football match, no common reason; everyone we asked had a random, unconnected reason for their absence the previous week! Just totally coincidence. Weird.
Speaking of Salsa, we're now looking forward to our Christmas parties and attendees are in for a real treat this year. Trisha has put together a fantastic routine for the our intermediate ladies' demonstration and our friends (and assistants) Phil and Kate have been busy choreographing and teaching our partnerwork demo. Phil came to me with an idea for the demo about three months ago thinking I might take it on board, and unwittingly volunteered himself for the job. I'm glad he did though, because he and Kate are doing a brilliant job. I almost wish I wasn't involved in performing it so I could just enjoy watching from the audience. It's gonna be fab!

Hope to see you there...