by Julianna Hane
The aerial community is full of self-taught DIY-ers leading the pack in their city or town. The desire to fly pulls at the pioneer’s heartstrings! While I certainly fit into the self-starter category, I am grateful for the mentors who have shared their hard-earned knowledge with me through live teacher training programs. In honor of my mentors, I have developed a list of why even the most go-getter individualists benefit from an aerial teacher training program:
1. Develop a plan to help keep students safe.
Even the most skilled aerialist needs to think differently about the skills when teaching. What could go wrong? What tends to be confusing? What is your back-up plan if something does go wrong? Remember, safety first.
2. Learn and practice spotting techniques.
Spotting involves technique just like skills in the air. Spotting helps keep students safe, guides them spatially, and reassures them when a chattering mind gets the better of them.
3. Spend time with like-minded people who are passionate about the aerial arts.
This is huge! Many aerial teachers (including myself) have felt isolated from other aerial teachers due to geography. Teacher trainings help you network. Some of my greatest aerial friends I met in a week long training and we are still close to this day.
4. Clarify your teaching philosophy.
It’s time to dig deep. Why are you a teacher? What is it you are actually teaching? Hint – it’s a core message or principle, not the aerial skills themselves. For more, check out The Aerial Teacher’s Handbook.
5. Discuss issues in teaching with other instructors, share stories, and get advice.
Every aerial teacher needs a circle of colleagues to confide in. And if you fall into that “geographically isolated” category mentioned earlier, you definitely crave that support!
6. Learn to break down skills into smaller steps.
The aerial arts grew out of the circus tradition and skills were only taught to students who proved a certain level of prerequisite strength and coordination. If we open recreational schools to “any body,” then we have to develop new teaching methods for the layperson. Translation: baby steps.
7. Practice cueing students through skills, and learn the "magic words."
Experienced teachers who have trained many types of learners and bodies have accumulated a huge bag of tricks, including “magic words” or verbal cues that work on almost every student. You will leave a training with a notebook full of these tricks of the trade.
8. Explore the concepts hidden within each skill to develop a curriculum and distinguish levels.
It is impossible to know every move on an apparatus, especially since the art form is so young and new moves are invented every day. It is possible to learn secrets to how the apparatus works. This allows you to teach students for depth (not just breadth, or 1,000 different moves). On a side note, building a curriculum with levels is also much easier when looking at underlying concepts rather than individual moves.
9. Expand your aerial vocabulary horizontally.
The beauty of a teacher training is that you get to experience skills you know well from a different perspective, and you get to expand your skill set outwardly (not just upwardly, or getting more advanced). Some students will always be at level 1, and you need to compile more skills and activities at that level to keep those students invested.
10. Further your own technique.
As a dancer, I am always taking ballet technique classes because I can never know it all or be perfect. A teacher training gives you an opportunity to develop your own technique and get feedback from experienced artists.
11. Get feedback on your teaching and receive guidance.
Never underestimate the power of constructive feedback from an outside source. You will be a much stronger teacher as a result. Teacher trainers are your greatest advocates offering support, resources and guidance for future growth. We want you to succeed!
Our authors include our Master Teacher Trainers as well as Born to Fly™ Certified Teachers.