Myths of Aerial Teaching Part 3 of 3
by Julianna Hane
Last time: We discussed how progressions are the key to solid teaching, not repeating what you learned in your first aerial class. (If you missed Part II, click here). Today we’ll bust:
Myth #3: Those who can do can also teach.
I have saved my favorite topic for last. This one can be controversial, but stick with me.
First of all, performing (doing) and teaching are very different processes. Doing involves a combination of physical, mental, and emotional abilities. Teaching involves communicating body knowledge to another person through a variety of means (physical practice, mental theory, analogies, etc.). Just because someone can do the skill does not mean they can explain it in a way that makes sense to others. To clarify what I mean, let’s backtrack a little.
Many professional aerialists started out at such a high level of ability that their training solely focused on breaking down elite level skills. They often lack experience with beginner progressions, and may not understand the recreational student body:
lack of upper body and core strength,
lack of coordination,
under-developed spatial awareness,
and the list goes on.
A teacher who has lived the challenges of their students often has keys to help them succeed that naturally talented people may not have access to. Let’s look at an example in another subject. I once worked with a teacher who loved teaching fractions – she just had a knack for breaking it down in a way that kids could understand it. If you’ve ever tried to teach fractions, you know how hard it is to do!
One day the teacher revealed her secret to me – she loved teaching fractions because she absolutely struggled to learn them as a child. Fractions did not make sense to her at first, and she worked very hard to master them. When she became a teacher, she wanted to ensure that her students did not have to feel defeated by fractions like she did, so she used many different teaching methods to help them learn to love fractions. (Remember how experience is overcoming a series of obstacles? If you missed out, read the blog about Myth #1.)
Of course, there are talented aerialists who are also great teachers. Like having a talent for performance, some people just have a knack for teaching. But I want to emphasize that a great performer does not necessarily a great teacher make.
To tease these skills apart, I evaluate teachers using the following questions:
1. Does this teacher have the knowledge?
2. Does this teacher clearly communicate their knowledge?
Great aerial teachers have both vast knowledge and communication skills. Now ask yourself the questions above - how do you rank? Do you feel confident in your knowledge base? Do your students understand your teaching? If you wish to grow in your teaching, we can help! Check out our teacher training and certification program. Join us for an aerial nerd-out session like no other.
Myths of Aerial Teacher Part 2 of 3
By Julianna Hane
Last time: In Part 1, we discussed how weekend courses in aerial teaching offer lots of great info, but the full journey into teaching must extent beyond that week for it to have any meaning at all.
(If you missed Part I, click here).
Today, we get to bust:
Myth #2: You can teach first-time students the same skills you learned in your first class.
This was probably the first lesson I learned in aerial teaching. When I began studying aerial fabric back in 2005, I travelled far and wide to take private lessons because aerial studios were not a “thing” yet.
The skills I learned in my first lesson, while appropriate for my abilities at that time, were not appropriate for most of the students I ended up training. When I opened my studio in 2008, students poured in from all walks of life and I loved it! But I realized that the skills I had originally learned had to be broken down into even smaller chunks to serve my students.
I learned to do this the hard way – by teaching, and then noticing when students seemed lost or frustrated. Whenever a student hit a roadblock, I had to instantly come up with a better way of presenting that skill. If you have ever taken an improvisation class, then you understand the roots of my teaching practice – responding in the moment.
Luckily, I could read people pretty well and had lots of ideas for breaking down skills. I noticed how my students revealed their hang-ups, and responded to them. I wasn’t perfect, but I began developing a series of progressions that turned into a larger curriculum.
Many years later, I am still experimenting with different teaching methods. I am finding better ways of presenting concepts, and am reaching more people as a result. Aerial teaching is the best puzzle – it never gets boring.
But what if I don’t have time to develop my own progressions from scratch?
Here’s the good news: you don’t have to reinvent the wheel! Rebekah and I have worked on building a
full certification program to share the methods we have developed over many years of teaching. Our big goal is to support the growth of the field through teacher education.
We are absolutely passionate about teaching, and would love to work with you.
Our authors include our Master Teacher Trainers as well as Born to Fly™ Certified Teachers.