7 Things aerobics teachers have taught me about teaching

So, three years later, I’ve missed you, blog! So I am back. I have become–ta da–an elementary school teacher! Amazing, beautiful, heinous, grueling, empowering, delightful…the list goes on and more to come on that situation. So, here are some things I have learned along the way.

1. 5 glows for every grow. Seriously. You might think you are being positive, but it won’t translate unless you are intentionally 5:1 with praise. Think about every bad boss you’ve ever had. How much resentment did you harbor for the overly-critical? How far would you go for the supportive? It’s pretty outstanding.

2. Let me know when it’s over (at least temporarily.) I am going to try so much harder when I know the next break (nap, vacation, you decide!) is only 15 seconds away. I am also the QUEEN of the countdown. Yes, I should live more in the present mo, but I still like a little sumn sumn to look forward to.

3.Empty praise is golden (great job everyone! you are the best readers ever….see?) Though I have always been told empty praise is the devil to be shunned, it must be precise and non-glorifying (e.g. you worked hard, Billy! vs. Billy, you’re soooo smart! you creative genius you!) but I have found, when I am busting my ass, panting, sweat dripping from previously unknown crevices that hearing the words “you are doing good” –even just OK— makes me happy. So I say it all the time to my kids. Because I think, generally, they are trying, as I do, to do a good job.

4. I assume you’re talking about me (yes, admittedly, vain as hell–but I’m bold enough to know I’m not alone here) be it critical or glorifying, I assume when you say “HEAD UP! relax those shoulders!” that it is I with the low head and tense shoulders. Then when you say it again (see #1) I am like JEEEEEEEEEEEZ, get off my back.

5. Stop talking (a little.) Seriously, shut it. I love my yoga teacher to the moon and back, Om Namah Shivaya etc etc, but when she starts going on and on about a pose while we are in said pose the only thing I can concentrate on is breaking the pose. Also, lectures are so boring. Even ADULTS in a conference are checking their phone and having side conversations, so how can we hold students to such extremes if it’s our own fault we’re rambling on and on like a…yoga teacher?

6. Recognize when we need a break. Sometimes, you need to tone it back. Sometimes, way waaay back. For example, a hot barre class on a 90 degree day. That shit needs to be toned back! Open that door. More water breaks!  Fewer repetitions! etc! Kids need to stretch and play and talk a lot, too. So let them.

7. Scaffold (apply various levels of difficulty for students to choose based on skill level) Let students choose which way they want to complete a project. Yes, choice is no revelation for student success. But, when I have the choice in a class heels up or down, upward facing dog or cobra, I am like, got this, doin it and doin it and doin it right.

I love being a student because it reminds me what pisses me off about being a student, so that I remember to bring the same style and attitude to my students. Though I am 20+ years older than they, I have an inkling they don’t mind so much.

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