The top Pilates and fitness certification organizations require you to complete practice teaching. These practice teaching hours occur outside your normal course hours, and are essential in order to fully understanding the material. Here are six quick tips to help you get the most benefit from practice teaching.
1) Schedule Out All Your Practice Teaching Hours
If your course requires you to complete 15 hours of practice-teaching: First decide how many hours you can reasonably accomplish per week, taking into account your fulltime job, family, etc. Secondly, decide a time slot(s) that you can commit to consistently, e.g. Thursday 6pm-8pm. Lastly, if your committable practice-teaching time is two hours per week and you’re required 15 hours total, schedule this time out for 8 weeks. By knowing your end date, you can push through busy weeks by focusing on your finishing line.
2) Send out an enticing “Free Pilates Session” Email
Create a list of friends and family who you would be willing to practice-teach. Offer them a free pilates session, and in the body of the email, be sure to explain that you are in training and that’s why the session is free. In this email offer the specific dates and times you would be available, e.g. Thursday, September 12th, 19th, 26th at 6pm and 7pm. Offering specifics ensures that you can stick to the times you scheduled yourself for.
3) Teach as Many Different People as Possible
The more kinds of people you work with, the better opportunities you will have to demonstrate and apply your knowledge. Different people provide an opportunity to adapt the work, improve your teaching skills, and help you become more comfortable with your teaching experience.
4) Schedule Time With Classmates
Practice-teaching a classmate is super important. Your classmate may challenge what you are saying because they also know the material. These sessions are perfect for teaching with your manual out, reading directly from it when questions arise.
5) Write Workout Plans on Index Cards
When teaching volunteers, write out the exercises you plan to teach ahead of time on one index card. Of course bring your manuals for referencing when necessary, but try to teach from just the index card. You will learn by writing it down and challenging yourself to remember. It will also give you a better sense of authority which is very important in building up the confidence to teach paying clients. From my experience, practice sessions usually become more of a mutual learning situation this way.
6) Find a Mentor
Find someone in the field who can answer your questions and encourage you along the way. A mentor may be a fellow teacher, a senior instructor, or even a teacher who is further along in their training. Having someone who you can shoot a quick email to or have coffee with to discuss your practice sessions is invaluable.