As a follow up to my blog Something New, Something Old, and Sometimes Lost but Now Renewed (long over due), after combing through my notes for the first three nuggets, exercises, ideas or whatever I may choose, I have chosen my three focuses for the next 21 days!
As a refresher, I chose one of my old continuing education notebooks to comb through with the aim of finding 3 gems to incorporate into my daily teaching. They could be exercises, teaching tools, cues, or concepts to focus on over the 21 days. I hope to be held accountable by my students in the studio (they’ll know) and by you, the reader. I intend to continue posting sets of three uncovered gems from my hidden stack of long lost notebooks, and will discuss my findings. You’ll find the discussions under my Teacher Training blog.
The title of the blog that started this project does a good job of encapsulating my theme for choosing what to work on:
Something New – Do not let your list of exercises define you as a teacher! This was taken from one of the many workshops I have spent with Alycea Ungaro. It seems appropriate, since I have started the ‘The Synthesis Mentor Project” with Alycea. More details are coming soon on my progress! I would say that it took me about 10 years teaching before I found myself finally feeling free to let go of feeling like what and how I taught the exercises were what defined me as a teacher. It was liberating. Don’t misunderstand; I still love the exercises, I still teach them with the intent of the classical method and I still keep them technical. But it is beautiful when you know the exercises well enough and have spent thousands of hours breathing, digesting, and dreaming about them so that you are able to simply let them go enough, to focus on the essence and the meat of the method! This is paradigm shift. Know your exercises, intentions, sequences, and transitions enough to focus on the actual art of teaching. Teach with intent and purpose not dogma!
Something Old – This series is an oldie but a goodie! How many of you let your Spine Corrector collect dust? It happens. A fantastic teacher reminded me of this great series, and if you live in the Pacific Northwest area you should seek her out – Dorothee VandeWalle. While I learned this series years ago, it’s time to do some dusting!
Spine Corrector Series: Teaser, Swan Dive – hand assist if needed, Teaser – facing hump, Grasshopper – hands on the floor, Rocker, Swimming, Hip Circles, Back Stretch with Arm Circles.
Awesomeness, that’s all! Don’t be afraid, make it part of your workout!
Sometimes Lost –When teaching apprentices, I occasionally find myself stuck (at times) teaching black and white, without the shades of gray. I love teaching apprentices. However, when teaching new apprentices, it is important to be crystal clear so that the foundational information is understood and absorbed. This is important because it allows them room to spread their wings after you’ve laid the foundation, but it means that sometimes nuances must be left out. It’s really no different than in teaching anything else: start simple and build in nuanced complexity over time. I’m not sure if my fellow teacher trainers in the industry have found this, but it is easy to get so focused on being clear that it can sometimes become limiting.
This simple concept was written in my notes from a workshop with Kathi Ross Nash: “I don’t modify, I break down.” When educating new apprentices, I state the exercise’s set up and action (at all levels), and then separately state the possible modifications and variations. It ends up feeling (sometimes) as though the modifications/variations are separate line items. Be confident in teaching each exercise. Know its sequence and purpose. Break it down to highlight the aspects of the exercise appropriate to the body in front of you. And always remember to teach with intent and purpose, not dogma!
Rachael Lieck Bryce