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Balanced Body COREterly

Fall/Winter 2015

Teaching & Learning

Three Rules of Teaching To Maximize Student Progress & Teacher Confidence
No matter how long you’ve been teaching or how much you know…

by Chantill Lopez, CPT

These three rules of HOW to teach, when used deliberately and not just on accident because “I kind of already do that,” will help you develop greater skill and confidence and create a foundation so you can successfully teach ANYTHING, implement ANY protocol and work with ANY student.

I’ve seen these rules do more to affect change, maximize progress and boost confidence than any other attribute, including outright years of experience.

We spend a lot of time and money on WHAT we know and very little time and attention on HOW we teach — which is informed by our WHY (a critical part of a successful teaching career) — and therefore end up doubting ourselves, feeling overwhelmed and unable to put our super cool knowledge into action.

Here’s what I’m suggesting you rely on instead:

  • Trust what you see
  • Ask for and trust your students’ feedback.
  • Always progress your students toward their greatest potential.

1. Trust What You See

Phillip Beach’s work with contractile fields, Muscles and Meridians, is COMPLEX. And yet he recommends “start with aesthetics.” Begin your analysis of the body by deciding what looks good or bad, malformed, misaligned, stuck, stiff, beautiful, fluid, sloppy, disorganized etc. Working with the body can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you trust what you see.

One of our primary jobs is to bring uniform development back to a body, to bring it back to center. When we trust what we see we can easily and quickly make adjustments for our students without being fixated on needing to know what lies beneath — at least not right away.

Teaching is ALWAYS a matter of trial and error — no matter how long you’ve been teaching. You are not ALWAYS going to get it right, but you can continue to trust yourself, trust what you see, watch carefully and be willing to explore with your student. That IS what teaching is about after all, exploration, curiosity, and diligence.

2. Ask for and trust your students’ feedback

This second rule is based on a method called student-centered teaching.

It’s likely that many of you intuitively use this rule a little bit, but not purposefully with the deliberate goal of creating a more trusting teacher/student relationship, therefore cultivating greater loyalty and motivation. OR as a means of more effectively progressing your students in the appropriate direction.

What we want is for the students to guide us, to be at the center of the experience even when we are dealing with complex issues. Teaching cannot successfully rely on our knowledge alone. A stronger, more reliable, perspective is one that combines the students’ experience and what we see.

Asking for and trusting your students’ feedback also creates explicit opportunities for them to trust their own experience. Without this, nothing we do or say would stick for very long.

Here’s something simple you can do to practice student-centered teaching:

  • Ask your students to notice — Don’t tell them to change.
  • When trying to re-educate, ask your student to actively notice where their body is in space, how it feels given a certain movement phase or sequence, and what they might do differently.
  • Evoke a sense of curiosity and awareness in order to reinforce what you see and what you want them to achieve/retain for the long term.

When students correct from internal awareness rather than constant prompting, they are more equipped to make those corrections when you are not around and to gradually maintain the corrections, so they become unconscious and integrated.

3. Keep your students progressing toward their greatest potential

In order to successfully use this third rule, you must not only employ the first two, you must also ALWAYS believe that your students have infinite potential: more than they know and more than you know.

Rules one and two are our checks and balances and give us clarity about how much potential we can move toward in any given instance. Rule three IS the ultimate goal: accessing as much potential as possible means not making assumptions about a student’s capacity or supporting their limiting beliefs.

This is much harder than you think.

Of course, the reality is that some people will never do jackknife or twist or teaser. However, if you treat your students as if they are lacking, you automatically diminish their potential and hold them hostage.

Here’s what you can do to keep your students progressing:

  • Always look for ways to take them deeper and further; ways to challenge their abilities within a safe framework.
  • Assess and reassess FREQUENTLY so you and they know exactly where they are and where you are going.
  • Don’t be afraid to challenge them or make them uncomfortable.
  • Don’t let them rely on props FOREVER. Props are wonderful, but they should not be — in most cases — the goal.
  • Ask them what they would most like to achieve and find the ways to help them achieve it. (This goes to our second rule.)
  • TRACK what you do so you know where you are and can formulate a plan for moving them ahead.

If you are a new teacher, anchor yourself into these three teaching rules and create a foundation for growing and learning. If you are an experienced teacher, these rules help you stay the course of HOW and WHY, allowing you to utilize the knowledge you do have without verbosity or excessive complexity. Make these rules a priority and keep your teaching clear and effective, your confidence steady and your students progressing consistently.

Listen to a full-length podcast on the Three Rules of Teaching applied to scoliosis and osteoporosis HERE

Get Chantill’s book “Moving Beyond Technique 2nd Edition” just released in print and Kindle HERE