Growing up in the dance field, I remember teachers talking about the difference between giving class and teaching class. I think this idea can be applied to aerial teaching as well. Here is the difference according to dance educators:
When giving class, the teacher guides students through planned sequences so they can follow along. The teacher may somewhat tailor the class to the students, but only to a certain degree since this type of class is usually a master class (a one-time class with a guest instructor).
In the aerial arts, giving class works well for workshop instructors who travel around and teach a wide variety of populations. It also works well when teaching a brand new group of students you have not worked with before (as in a new session or drop-in class).
Workshops and master classes allow students to experience a different teacher’s point of view. It also requires less planning time on the part of the teacher since they usually teach the same workshop in different cities. (After all, how can a workshop teacher plan specifically for students they have never met?) I picture the teacher as the driver and students as passengers along for the ride.
Teaching class, on the other hand, is a different animal. While teachers may still follow a class plan in this situation, the plan is tailored to the specific students who show up to that class week after week. The teacher also offers modifications and variations, and isn’t afraid to change course altogether based on the needs in the room that particular day.
In the aerial arts. teaching class (instead of giving class) is more possible when the same students attend class over a longer period of time. In this situation, I imagine the teacher in conversation with the students at a dinner table. The teacher offers information, the students respond, the teacher answers back, and so on.
Is one better than the other?
Since both giving class and teaching class are effective formats, it is a completely personal choice as to which one you prefer. Some teachers find their niche as workshop teachers since they know how to give a really great class and reach a broad base of students in a short period of time. While I enjoy teaching workshops and meeting new people, my favorite is teaching class because of the back-and-forth conversation that occurs over a longer period of time.
Do you notice a difference between workshop and weekly class teaching? Which do you prefer and why? Do you have any strategies that help you navigate classes versus workshops?
Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!
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