Aerial yogis, aerialists, and athletes are always looking for ways to improve. As instructors, our job is to help our circle of students to explore and excel in the craft. How are we doing?
Since the world has been stopped in its tracks by the coronavirus, many of us have found an abundance of time to consider our next move. We may have found creative ways to teach through a live video platform, recording tutorials, or maybe just taking a breath to recover from a previously too-busy schedule.
Now is the perfect time to take a personal/professional inventory and ask some important questions. What's working? What might we build upon? How can we sharpen our teaching skills for the benefit of our students and the art form as a whole?
Here are a few ideas:
Safety first. This is always your number one concern. As an instructor, your knowledge should be sharp and current. Pass on what you already know and refer students to reputable sources if more information is needed. The internet is heavy with questionable or downright incorrect practices. Your work as an aerial instructor is not to have all the correct answers, but to equip your students with what you do know coupled with the best possible instincts. Know when to seek out additional help. Make sure your spotting skills are en pointe and use mats.
New Hygiene Standards.Give studios a thorough inspection and clean before reopening. Have hand sanitizer by the door, but also enforce hand washing before and after classes. While masks may not be practical during exercise, limit class sizes to help with social distancing, and consider allowing more time between classes to clean mats and floors. Remember that no fabric spray has been proven to completely sanitize the fabrics, so washing is best. Many studios are swapping out fabrics between each class. Offer your students the option to bring their own fabrics if they have them at home.
Proper technique.In the creative movement arts, teaching technique early on is important for establishing ways for the body to protect itself with good alignment, form, and strength. Setting a foundation for this in beginner-level classes can help to prevent roadblocks later on in your students' careers. It’s very easy for students to be injured after time out of the studio, by doing too much too soon. Consider a series of “Returning to the Air” classes to ease students in, honing in on the proper form of the fundamentals.
Inclusiveness and empowerment.We've all had that teacher who made us feel special. She or he might have been helping all the students to feel that way. This is a special gift that can be exercised in aerial classes, too. We all have limits, whether perceived or "real." But many of these are false beliefs. When you create an atmosphere in the class of "We can" the results could be miraculous.
Mentorship.When you teach over an extended period of time, you may find some students gravitating toward you and a kind of mentor. This can be a wonderful relationship. Staying grounded with your own mentors can also help foster a great experience for all parties. Keep in mind that some students might assign or project various roles onto you. Make sure your boundaries are intact to keep the dynamic healthy for everyone.
Proper Self-Care.Aerial arts are a rigorous undertaking, and self-care is a must. Let your students know, and set the example by taking care of yourself as well. It will take some time to adjust to the new normal at the studios, and your students will understand this.
Teaching aerial arts is a wonderful opportunity to help others learn and benefit from your skill and knowledge. Students have been waiting for this moment to come, and are so excited to train with you again. When you're on top of your game, you can be confident that you are working at your best. Seek out additional teacher training, watch inspirational videos, and above all, be true to yourself. You have a gift!
Whether times are good or extremely challenging, many of us need a community to embrace -- even if our only way to connect has been virtual for much of 2020. Now that some aerial studios are allowed to start to open up again, many aerialists and aerial yogis will be breathing a sigh of relief as they anticipate getting back to the practice.