What I learned about teaching from Pilates

By Katrina on February 2, 2017
Posted to Teaching and Learning


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38 woman doing pilates

I've been doing Pilates for a number of years and am reasonably competent, I've been teaching for even longer and think that I'm okay at that too but being in the role of student is a good reminder of what works in teaching.

I left my long-term Pilates studio recently after several changes of staff, poor quality instruction and not feeling my needs were recognised. I now travel further and pay more but it's worth it for the benefits of working with a good teacher.

So what have I learnt about teaching from my Pilates classes?

Start each lesson by acknowledging the student.
Your comfort level and confidence improves if you feel welcomed and connected from the start of the lesson. You also feel more comfortable when you know the other students, so introduce new students and foster contact between people.

A known starting routine builds confidence.
A predictable start helps people to feel successful and relaxed so that they are ready to learn and means that you can enter the class independently and self manage the start of the lesson.

Tell me what we're working on and why.
I need to know the purpose and the focus so that I am putting my energy into the right things. If I can see the relevance and where this skill will go I am more likely to give it a red hot go.

Provide explicit instruction and achievable challenges.
Show me how, point out the key techniques and then monitor my early efforts. I am happy to be pushed but make the challenge within my comfort zone. As soon as is too much or too hard I give up or feel negative about my ability.

Differentiate the task to my needs.
Target the task so that it is just for me, just at my level and just what I need helps me to improve. But remember that just because I could do something last time doesn't mean I can do it today or remember all of the technique to do it well.

Feedback and praise are motivating.
It is encouraging to know what I am doing right and it helps me to do more of it but specific correction and redirection when I am working keeps me engaged and safe.

Variety and pace keep learning fun.
Being able to do something I like doing in every class adds to my enjoyment and motivation. Short bursts of hard things make them achievable and time on my own to practice or even slow down helps me to consolidate skills and reflect on what I am doing.

Ask me for feedback.
Check in with me about how things are going and what is working for me. Listen and respond to my comments and make me feel like we are a team.

Katrina Spencer

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