TEACHING BRIDGE ONLINE - PART THREEby Caitlin, from The Bridge Forum International
Having looked at what one needs in order to teach on-line, including technical equipment and how one 'makes a home' on one or more sites, you are now ready to start teaching. You have made yourself known as an ethical, encouraging, solid player and member of your on-line bridge site(s). You have apprenticed and now it is time to fly on your own.
Give yourself a name for your one-person school. Let's call it PLAY BRIDGE WITH JOE. You open a table at regularly scheduled times everyday and during these free sessions, announce that you provide lessons. What kind of lessons? You have prepared your written material for courses and private work. Now what kind of lessons are you offering? There are private lessons and groups. There are private lessons where your student wants to practice her SAYC skills and private lessons where she wants to learn SAYC. There are supervised play groups where people want to practice what they know and groups where you teach a system or a topic. Topics include, for example, the following: Introduction To The Law of Total Tricks, Introduction To Losing Trick Count, Defensive Strategy (levels 1,2,3), Declarer Play (levels 1,2,3). As you find yourself swamped -- providing lesson notes prior to courses and analyses of hands played after each session -- you are ready for a full-fledged bridge school. To describe how this works, let me tell you more about Bridge Forum International of which I am co-founder.
We have a website and four expert affiliates-- Larry Cohen, Marty Bergen, Ron Klinger and Mike Lawrence. You can negotiate a fee with such experts or in turn, highlight their works on your website and the monthly bulletin you will send out. You need a web designer and other well respected teachers. Each month we change our website and send out a Bridge Forum Bulletin to reflect the changes and upcoming events for the month. Such events might include new courses being offered or forums on-line by an expert. For example, Mike Lawrence recently did one on the 'Killing Lead', Ron Klinger on Losing Trick Count with proceeds to a major children's hospital in Sydney, Australia and in November, Larry Cohen will be doing one on the Law of Total Tricks (Sunday, November 7th 3-5 pm PACIFIC) with donations accepted for the Turkish relief fund.
Teachers typically acquire private students through free Bridge Forum supervised play groups held regularly, including team games on Tuesdays and Sundays at 2:30 PACIFIC, open to all. Fees for private lessons range, however the standard on-line rate is $50.00 U.S. for two hours. Courses, typically 8-10 weeks, range from $75.00 to $100.00 per person. A popular format for teaching is the supervised play group and here we offer such different groups for all levels of players who use SAYC and intermediate and advanced two over one groups. Such groups are offered at $100.00 per month per person and I personally aim to have no more than five in a group, one extra as someone may not be able to show one week. When all five show, we rotate and the fifth person is assigned a task, to help you provide feedback. In doing so, by analyzing the hands played, students can learn a great deal.
You can enhance your website with a BID WITH THE EXPERT panel and indeed Bridge Forum has an international panel with Zia, Eric Kokish, Liz McGowan, Paul Soloway, Sabine Auken (Zenkel), Eddie Kantar and the likes. Such a feature is particularly attractive to more advanced players who send in their responses and from the general bridge-playing public, the person with the highest score is invited on the panel for one month.
Additional features, including a monthly bulletin, are articles geared to novices, intermediate and advanced players. In this way, on your website and in your bulletin, you can introduce topics which you then offer courses on.
Good luck with your on-line teaching and always remember that your students are trying to do their best. Encouragement is key to providing a supportive, enjoyable environment for all of us who play this game of bridge!