12 Tips for Movement Teachers
These tips are obvious. You know these things.
And, sometimes it's helpful to be reminded:
1) TEACH ONLY WHAT YOU LOVE
If you don’t love what you’re teaching (Pilates, weight training, yoga, ice dancing, whatever!), please don’t teach it. It will be a drain on you, and your students will feel it.
2) AVOID COMPARISON
Avoid teacher comparison. The teacher whose class or style you love who’s been teaching for 10, 20 or 30 years didn’t start out as an experienced teacher. They began as a beginner teacher.
Teaching is a practice and a process all its own. And, you will ONLY become a better teacher by practicing teaching. No amount of teacher trainings or certifications will make you a better teacher. The practice of teaching will make you a better teacher.
3) NOTICE YOUR ADMIRATION
Notice what teachers you choose to study with, and WHY. Do you gravitate towards teachers that appear powerful, sexy and famous? Do you choose to learn from teachers with humility, grace and experience, even if they haven’t been featured in magazines or have 20 zillion Instagram followers?
It's a fascinating study…do we gravitate towards teachers whose lives we think we want, or who are actually effective teachers?
4) BE THE TEACHER YOU ARE TODAY
As teachers, we’re not going to be masters at everything. Through experience teaching, you’ll discover what you’re most passionate about, what you teach well, and what you enjoy teaching the most. Once you organically discover that, do that. Completely let go of the teacher you thought you’d be, or want to be, and practice being the teacher you are, right here, today.
5) DON'T OVERWORK YOURSELF
Learn YOUR sweet spot for how much teaching works for you. When I was in my 20’s, I had a much greater stamina for teaching. I taught 6 days a week, 12 classes a week and sometimes up to 10 privates a week. I don’t teach that much any longer!
You may be good with 2 classes a week, or 1 private a week and a workshop. Your sweet spot for how much teaching works for you will change. Regularly, notice your energy and your level of either excitement or dread when you go to teach. If its draining you, teach less, and don’t compare what works for you to what works for someone else.
6) TEACH TO WHO IS IN THE ROOM
This is easier the longer you’ve been teaching. Try to avoid teaching the class or the sequence you prepped for that day, when it really ISN’T appropriate for those who are right in front of you.
As a beginner teacher, teach what you planned, but then, as soon as you’re able, practice thinking on your feet, and changing course if what you had planned isn’t right for the people in front of you that particular day. Inevitably, if you’ve planned a lot of work on the shoulders and hands, you’ll have students come with with a rotator cuff injury or arthritis in their wrists! Its Murphy’s Law! So, the more you can practice thinking on your feet, and changing your class plan, the better.
7) LET GO OF ASSUMPTIONS
Don’t make assumptions about ANYONE in your class. This is super challenging, but a necessary practice. If someone is larger, don’t assume they’re stiff, not strong or inexperienced. If someone is older, don’t assume they’re frail and need to be babied. If someone says they’re a beginner, don’t assume they’re not balanced or physically capable. You may have an Olympic athlete in your class. They just happen to be a beginner when it comes to Pilates or yoga, etc. And, if someone tells you they’re very experienced, remember that “experienced” is all relative!
8) AVOID TEACHING UP FRONT
Don’t teach from the front of the room unless your students really, truly NEED the demo. This isn’t your workout or practice time, its there’s.
9) RECORD YOURSELF TEACHING
Record yourself teaching regularly. This can be simple! You don’t have to film yourself with video, although that is ideal, but simply an audio recording will do. A voice memo on your smartphone. Then, take your own class and notice things like:
What is your pacing like?
Do you use unnecessary words or phrases like, “Now we’re going to…”, or “um, okay…”
And this one is used A LOT…”Good” or “Beautiful” - teachers say this over and over and over again when they’re not even watching the class or a student.
10) MAKE TIME FOR PERSONAL PRACTICE
Prioritize your workout and practice time throughout the week. If you’re too busy to have your own time AND teach, and your teaching time begins to be your practice or workout time, you’re teaching too much.
11) NO EXPECTATIONS FOR STUDENTS
Let go of any expectations you have for students. This one is sneaky and deceptive. Do you say things like, “once your shoulders open up, we’ll get you to…”. Or, “with time, you’ll be able to…”. If we, as teachers use language like this, it gives the impression to students as if they’re not already enough. And, they ARE. Maybe this IS “open” for their shoulders? If students are always striving to be somewhere they’re not, it completely defeats the purpose of being in the moment, and in their body. So, notice how you, as a teacher, can help them feel as if they’ve already arrived.
12) TEACH HOW TO BREATHE
Teach people how to breathe. Don’t just remind them or tell them to breathe, but teach them HOW. This will be a thousand times more helpful to them than any posture or exercise you ever teach them.