Teaching Skills

Take Your Teaching to the Next Level

September 4, 2013

Many teachers hit a bit of a plateau after they have passed their certification exam and have been teaching for about a year. Here are a few tips on how to keep take your teaching to the next level and avoid a plateau.

Be Part of a Community of Teachers

Working in isolation can lead to burn-out. I think every teacher has felt it. When you just seem to keep teaching the same exercises over and over. I had a small studio downtown San Francisco where one teacher would teach at a time. The biggest complaint from my teachers is that they were lonely and missed the stimulation the other teachers provided. If you work all alone in a studio, I suggest finding at least one time each week that you can be part of a bigger community, such as teach a couple classes at a gym or larger studio. You will hear your fellow teachers cues and styles of teaching which can be a wonderful influence on your own teaching.

Dive into a Specific Issue

Take some time to study a particular issue, like prenatal or an activity such as rock climbing. Find opportunities to teach these special populations so you can focus your new knowledge on programming for these individuals.

Continuing Education Workshops

Many teachers do not take advantage of all the wonderfully diverse continuing education workshops that are available. In a couple hours you can learn so much: exciting new exercises and programming, ways to expand your repertoire on a small prop, the latest research, deepen your anatomical knowledge, and really pick the brain of an experienced teacher. If you want the most bang for your buck, I would suggest a minimum of three continuing education workshops per year.

Branch Out to Teaching Different Populations and Groups

Have you looked at your schedule and noticed if all your clients are similar? Maybe you have done a terrific job of appealing to clients of a certain age, gender, or level. While its wonderful to have attracted and retained clients, a long term goal could be to finetune your teaching so that anyone who walks through your door enjoys your sessions. Some suggestions to get started diversifying your clientele are:

  • Ask trainers who have the population you are missing what works for them
  • Practice free sessions with friends then asking for honest feedback on the session
  • Ask your new clients if you are meeting their goals

Branching out of your comfort zone will make you an all around better instructor.

Enhance Your Communication Skills

Teaching is about communicating information and ideas, and communication is a practiced skill. So, spend some time improving your ability to communicate. For example, when you teach, you may not be expressing what you want to say clearly; or your client may not understand the words you are using. Getting regular feedback from practice clients such as a friend or family member, and / or asking an experienced colleague to sit in on your teaching will highlight areas of potential improvement. Alternatively, you could record yourself teaching, and then inspect it critically afterwards.

Ask your colleague for very practical feedback such as: What did you like best? Did I speak loudly enough? Did I speak clearly? What was my non-verbal communication? Did the students seem able to absorb the material at the speed I gave it? Did I emphasize the most important principles for an effective and safe session? Did the students look comfortable or uncomfortable?

Try a New Sport or Activity

Trying something new such as skiing, snowboarding, or ballroom dancing will help you understand the physical demands required for that activity. Then you can become your own guinea pig and test out various programing specific for individuals that participate in that activity. And, if successful, you might become well-known within your community as a trainer for anyone who does that particular sport or activity.

What do you do to keep your teaching and your practice fresh?

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