Teacher Appreciation Week is next week and to begin to honor it I wanted to share a letter from a teacher who has touched my heart and many others. This is specific to his teaching at The Dailey Method but can be related to teaching in many different facets. Colin has commitment and passion to being the best authentic teacher and I love his words of wisdom.
Next week, (and always) I invite you to express gratitude to your teachers – those who have touched your hearts – within our TDM community and other circles of your life. My own heart is filled with appreciation for the beautiful arts of teaching and learning.
How does that old classic go? I left my heart in San Francisco – especially at the Dailey Method? Those words have never been truer than as I gear-up to move to the city that never sleeps (or stops snowing). Yep – come May 3rd, New York is home. Leaving is unquestionably bittersweet because of the amazing Dailey Method community.
Reflecting on my years with TDM, I’m reminded of my personal journey – as both student and teacher. Embodying the principles and philosophy of The Dailey Method while learning to effectively share that knowledge with others wasn’t always easy, fun, or sexy (try as we might), but it’s been a rewarding process that I wouldn’t trade for anything. To my fellow instructors, veterans and trainees alike, and to students interested in a little insight into the experiences of a TDM instructor, here are a few tips that shaped my own personal development as an instructor.
1. Say it, don’t spray it.
Don’t forget to say this…and that…and OMG what’s seat work again? With so many technical concepts to recall during a class, mental logjams are not uncommon. It’s critical to stay present with your students and make every instruction meaningful. It’s not our job to dictate a checklist; it’s our job to help people engage with their bodies. Remember to slow down, give your words purpose and meaning, and understand your own unique gift to inspire health and fitness.
2. Be a creative.
What this means is unique to each instructor. When I first began teaching, I focused heavily on understanding the principles of our exercises and creating a healthy merging of my teaching style and the fundamentals of TDM. I then began playing with music and tempo and later started to be creative with my choreography. Creativity is what helps keep our classes fun, fresh, challenging and relevant.
3. Become the master of your domain.
Congratulations, you’re the instructor… So take charge! Controlling the space, energizing music, and effective use of tempo are all examples of the little things that add up in a big way and it is the compound effect of these efforts that breathes life into a class. But you want to know the real secret? PLAN your class. The choreography, variations, and transitions are all as important as the exercises themselves. I have found that 100% of the time, when I plan my class in advance, it is better – and that’s a statistic I can work with.
4. Parrots are caged for a reason – they’re creepy, so don’t be one 🙂
As instructors, it’s critical that we collaborate, share ideas, and learn from one another. However, this doesn’t mean we should all sound exactly the same. The reality is that a good instructor understands and embodies TDM principles in a fashion that allows him or her to effectively teach these principles to others. Your unique personality is the vessel from which you should deliver your classes, as it’s the space where we have the most room to grow, learn and be present.
5. Knowledge is power.
TDM is on the cutting edge of so much when it comes to health and fitness and there are many opportunities to deepen our knowledge as instructors. When I decided to teach TDM, I set a bar for myself to access these opportunities as often as possible so I’ve continuously studied the manual, attended continuing education workshops and taken classes from senior instructors. This commitment alone probably had the most significant impact on my progress and I would encourage all instructors to make a solid effort to leverage the knowledge at your fingertips – your quality of teaching will reflect this effort immediately.
These five strategies have helped me develop as an instructor and I hope they offer others fresh ideas on how to approach their practice. It has been my honor and privilege to squeeze, lengthen and lift with all of you over the years. I certainly will be leaving a part of my heart with all of you.
With love and health,