What is a seminar?
Let's start with the definition:
a conference or other meeting for discussion or training.
a class at a college or university in which a topic is discussed by a teacher and a small group of students.
By definition, seminars should be a place for discussing topics and training surrounding those topics.
Traditionally, though, agility seminars tend to be set up more broadly, and if the presenter isn't careful, can easily become miniature private lessons.
Let's continue defining seminars, and then unpack some ways you can be sure to create a dynamic learning experience for all involved, no matter if you're attending, hosting, or presenting the seminar.
Who are seminars for?
Dog agility seminars are available to anyone participating in the sport. Generally, instructors or owners of training facilities are the hosts of these seminars, and the students of that instructor/school have priority registration to that event.
Sometimes, it can feel like seminars are a secret, so if you are not currently attending classes at a facility, I would recommend reaching out to some of the instructors/schools in your area to let them know you would be interested in attending seminars in the future.
Depending on the size of the facility, public registration may or may not be possible.
Traditionally, working spots are valued at a much higher level than auditing spots at agility seminars. I personally think this is a huge misconception, considering 80% of your working spot is auditing time.
Working spots are also hard on the dogs – long days, lots of downtimes, and typically, longer than normal training sessions with an unfamiliar coach and a (more-than-normal) nervous handler.
Why should we attend seminars?
Seminars are incredibly valuable for learning new ideas, expanding on known ideas, and getting unique perspectives about your training and handling. They provide a unique opportunity to speak with different clinicians about training and observe how different presenters set up training situations and problem-solve with a variety of teams.
How should we attend seminars?
As a student, here are my top tips for getting the most of a seminar:
- show up ready to hear new ideas
- show up ready to try new things
- show up ready to observe how that instructor works with other teams
As a host, do everything listed above, PLUS:
- observe how the presenter solves problems for your students
- listen for different ways the presenter explains common problems/solutions
- make notes of things that you can continue to work on in class to help your students pick up where the seminar leaves off
If you present seminars, here are my top tips for creating an engaging learning environment:
- present material in ways that give space for teaching, trouble-shooting, and discussing
- present solutions in ways that are repeatable and sustainable long after the seminar is over
- give ALL participants space to ask questions and discuss things throughout the day
- make connections with people as if you have been coaching them their entire training journey
& if you're looking for more insights into seminars, check out my podcast episode on the topic, here.