Ok, I am still thinking about how my spin classes relate to how kids learn (darn and adults), I just can’t seem to shake it. So I will apologize in advance, but I will come back to this thought in a moment.
This last round of pondering comes as I am attempting to improve my own skills in the classroom. My school has purchased the gift of using an online platform for curriculum this year for counselors The lessons are short and sweet, but man there are 26 of them - so wondering how am I ever going to get them done, along with the other required push ins that I do as a middle school counselor? Needless to say I am giving this a ton of consideration and attempting to get creative. I mean I am not trained to teach per se. I don’t have a teaching license. Then a random remark by the owner of an agency that I “lightly” also work for, really hit home. He said have fun tonight “teaching in group”. I got ruffled by that and explained, "I don’t teach in group, I share, I expose, I learn, we practice, we discuss, and we play.” He responded, “but isn’t that the essence of great teaching?” and he walked off just leaving me to consider his words. Yep - gosh he is good.
So I began to watch teachers - everywhere. Yes at my school is an obvious place, but this brings me back to my spin class. I have had a number of spin instructors over the course of the last couple of weeks. It must be a busy time for them as well. Anyway, sometimes I am motivated to work really hard in the class and other times I feel myself digging in my heels and chanting unkind expletives in my head towards the instructor - such as “shut up already” ya that is one of the kinder ones. I KNOW the unkind language I am using towards another but with myself is not helping me to perform better in any way yet I do it - especially with this one instructor. She just will not.. shut.. up… She does the classic ways to motivate, “keep going”, “don’t give up”, wahahahahahahaha the entire time. She is a good instructor, knows her stuff, but really is not tapping into that motivation that is key for me. Another instructor just tells us something like “make sure you have enough weight on the fly wheel” but not for what. For speed, climbing? No clue. I get a good workout - most of the time unless I am in slide mode, I have to be committed and at the end of the day sometimes I am just not… I need the help.
Both of the above examples were missing some of the key elements. The first is doing a great job of the the first elements, share, expose but that is about it, there is no real value placed on individual creativity, no play. If she sees someone slowing down she just yells to keep going LOUDER. The second instructor, does not do a good job of the first part - the pre-teach, but if I am into being creative she allows for lots of that to be experienced in the room, but I also might just coast. Hmmm.
And then there is this one instructor. She does not yell into the mike with platitudes like “good job”, she is specific with the comments. Not to a single person but o
n the level of work she is seeing in the room. She pre instructs what will be done during the next drill, she tells us what she is expecting to see “I am looking for everyone to get comfortably uncomfortable” and then she does it with us, explaining the shift points, ensuring all are engaged, and that we are all sweating at capacity. She shares that if there is a particular part of the drill that a participant does not wish to participate in, that is their call, their workout and then she watches. After class she works the room to ensure she connects with each participant (or most of them) giving specific feedback in the areas that they did well, so they KNOW very clearly her expectations when they return. Needless to say her classes are always full.
I have set a goal for myself to remember the motivational features of the third spin instructor when I am in the classroom this year. I don’t want kids to tune out, I want them to have time to process, to digest and use what I have to share in creative ways. I want to ensure that I am doing all of the steps, and then to leave time at the end to connect giving specific feedback so that the expectations when I return are clear. Mostly I want to do the things that are likely for my students to get “a good workout” and take credit for their own learning. Most importantly - we all need to have fun.