Everyone has, at one time or another, been in a movement or fitness class where it felt like they were the only one that wasn’t getting the exercise. You feel like you barely got the movement before the teacher moved on to the next exercise. This can be frustrating.
As a teacher it’s important to being sensitive to this situation especially when teaching group classes. Your goal is to get the entire class working as fully as possible without over-working or tiring them out in the process learning. A good teacher will find a way to not leave any students behind.
When you see a group participant struggling, let it signal you to change your plan on the spot. Teaching a group should be a conversation. Being a good “listener” means you must identify a student struggling and respond accordingly.
If a student is struggling with an exercise, slow the subsequent exercise way down. This will help the student feel like they are moving with the group without singling them out.
Pinpoint the part of the exercise or sequence that is the most problematic and break the movement into pieces. For example, if the trouble spot has to do with arm movements, do just the arm part of the exercise. Break apart the movement into a few clear cues so your students can practice moving through each place with the corresponding cues. Then add it back into the full exercise.
By simply relating the movements to everyday activities you can make the movement much more accessible. For example instead of cueing, “Reach your arms down your sides, then reach the arms out to the sides at shoulder height,” try cueing, “Reach in your pockets, then out”. When paired with demonstrating, the movement become much easier and memorable. It connects the movement to the simple, relatable verbal cue.
After you slow the movement down and have broken it down into pieces, start to build the speed back up to a normal rhythm. As you build speed it is important to keep a close eye on your students. As soon as you think they can add more of the full movement or pick up speed, cue it, one thing at a time.
Remember, teaching is like a conversation or dance with your students. To be a good partner in learning you must respond to your students needs in real-time.