by Sarah Bebe Holmes
So many things come into play with this question, ego of course being one of them.
The first question to ask is: WHO’S EGO IS AT STAKE?
Followed by: HOW DO I DEAL WITH IT?
It’s important to distinguish the difference between YOU thinking your student is seriously advancing in skill and YOUR STUDENT thinking they are advanced in skill. Sometimes you will agree, but not always.
If your student thinks they are advanced it’s important to ask yourself if they really are or not. If truly not, then your job as an instructor is to continue to instill the safety, and foundations that they need as well as continue to challenge them in fun ways. Students can fall under the false impression that they are better than they are. Delusions of grandeur can commence. It may be because their understanding of the material, their proprioception and their general ability are better in their minds than in reality. This is when we as teachers need to be our best and lovingly hold these beauties back. It’s not about stunting them, it’s about maturing them through giving them variations that stretch their understanding or extra challenges that increase their strength.
It’s your job as a good aerial instructor to only give them tricks when they are ready. Make sure they meet the prerequisites that you think are necessary, even if they think they are boring. The number of times I have walked into a private lesson and had an “improver” level student ask me to teach spiral drop to ankle hang or some other advanced drop is wildy frequent. It’s ok to say, “Great, we can work up to that, let’s start here . . . “ Again, it’s about being loving. Not saying “NO” or “You’re not good enough”. But instilling the concept that this is a journey and you are happy to be on it with them, but we need to start at the beginning together.
So you’re a teacher, you’ve been doing this for a long time. You earned it the hard way, before Instagram or YouTube. You had to get the nuts and bolts first, you worked hard, you got injured and for some time you have not been working on yourself and your skills, but you’ve been teaching. And here comes this young student who has climbed to your level in a third of the time it took you to get there. They may or may not think or know they are advanced. But you know it, and you don’t want them to surpass you.
Well, tough luck. It is not our job to hold people back when they are ACTUALLY READY. Even if they are going to get the next gig, or start teaching where you teach. If you are their teacher and you love teaching, then teach them what you know. If they surpass you in skill but keep coming remember they are coming because you have something to offer, it might be nuance, it may be creative choreography, it may be character work, or they just may need some outside eyes and they respect you. If they ask you for a skill that is beyond your level think “IS THERE ANYTHING I KNOW THAT CAN HELP them with this skill?” You may have some excellent conditioning or pre-requisites that can get them ready.
Do as much as you can as long as you can and then RECOGNIZE WHEN TO LET GO. The best way to do this is to send them to someone else you know. They might not even live where you live, but give options. This is the role of a real teacher, to have grace and acceptance of ourselves for who we are, where we are, and when we are; and to help the future flourish.
Dedicated to: Althea Young (17) and Ellie Rossi (13), Students of Paper Doll Militia who we've had the pleasure of watching grow from aerial fledglings. They now soar to impressive new heights and continue to take the aerial world by storm.
Stages in Effective Verbal Cueing
by Julianna Hane
The art of cueing can be a tricky subject. At times it’s over-rated, and at other times overlooked. Cueing well requires multiple layers of understanding of not just the skills themselves, but also in noticing how students respond and adjusting your strategy as needed.
I’ve broken the verbal cueing process into 6 stages. (Physical cueing is also incredibly useful, and will be featured in another post). As you practice teach, notice which stage of the process gives you the most trouble. Each section below contains a description and suggestions for improvement. The stages of effective cueing are as follows:
Stage 1: Understand the goal.
Fully understand the body position or movement you are going for and why. What is the ultimate goal? This means knowing proper alignment and appropriate range of motion of each joint as it applies to aerial arts technique. Rather than memorizing arbitrary arm and leg positions, what actions or muscle activations in the body make each skill possible?
Stage 2: See what the student is actually doing.
Cues should always be given in a context rather than arbitrarily memorized. Use both your knowledge of the body and your observation skills to really see your student. To see accurately, do you understand basic alignment principles of the body? Do you know what muscle activations support various movements? Do you understand the difference between anatomical terms like hip flexion vs. hip extension and how they keep you connected to the apparatus?
Stage 3: Compare the goal to the current reality.
How does the student’s current expression of the skill differ from the goal? Analyze and draw conclusions. This will form a blueprint of your long-term goals for that student (which could be a few weeks, months, or years).
Stage 4: Choose what to focus on first.
Students who have restrictions and weaknesses (pretty much all human beings) will be able to make drastic changes in their bodies over time, but not in one class. Choose the most important goal or concept in order for that student to: 1) be safe, 2) experience a new sensation (i.e. muscle engagement) within the skill, and 3) get a little closer to the goal.
Stage 5: Try out different cues.
Select words, an image, a phrase, or a physical cue that might connect with that student. Start collecting cues by observing other teachers, taking classes, practice teaching, and developing a personal practice to help you describe what is happening in your own body. Notice how movement patterns reflect nature or other common things in our world (i.e. the spine articulating like a string of pearls).
Stage 6: Note which cue worked and which ones didn’t.
Observe the student’s response to your cue. Did the student get closer to the goal? Did they do the opposite of what you wanted? Students pour out a plethora of information if you simply observe how they react! Then, consider how to proceed. Try out other cues and see what happens. When in doubt, try a different route. When a cue wins, use it again!
Do you have other ways of breaking down the cueing process? Do you have specific requests to help you further develop your cueing? Leave us a message below!
Our authors include our Master Teacher Trainers as well as Born to Fly™ Certified Teachers.