What I Learned from Swimming Class

As an educator, it fascinates me to watch instructors in non-public schools ply their trade teaching kids to karate chop, kick a spherical ball, or depict a character in a play. Although this can sometimes be a bad thing, there is something illucudating about observing learning environments less encumbered by large ‘p’ Politics. I’ve often said that I feel lucky enough to have had my kids in extracurricular activities with superb educators who do not hold teaching degrees. I consider it a type of PD.

Here’s what they do in our municipal swimming classes:

Students pass or fail, period. There are no grades. Learners rarely pass the high levels their first time.

Everything that happens has feedback and exemplars embedded into the learning process. It is unambiguous, intelligible, and connected directly to success criteria.

Classes are not determined by age, but by acquisition level of skills. My daughter was just in a level with kids spanning 7 to 12 years of age.

No stickers are used. Not even for the tiny kids like my 3yo Jackson.

Teachers and students open up their learning to other classes, parents, supervisors. Everyone literally sees what’s going on. It is the definition of transparency.

There are no electronic devices.



  1. Love it! I taught swimming lessons while I got my teaching degree and have always said that it was a great grounding for building my personal education philosophy. I would like to add one more to your list: When you teach a child to float, your job is to ensure that they are comfortable and confident… once you have made them feel that way, they are able to float. Knowing they are in an environment where its okay to take the risk of picking your feet up off the ground ensures they can take control of their own learning :).

    Thanks for the post!

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