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.