[Hooping.org columnist Lara Eastburn returns next week and we present a best of Hooposophy column that has not previously appeared on Hooping.org.]
I can’t even imagine what it’s like for our latest generations of hoopers to ask themselves this question. I expect that it can be intimidating. Concerns must arise for you that did not occur to us in the earliest days of hooping: Have I been hooping long enough? Am I good enough? Is it bad form to offer classes in the same city as a more established teacher? Should I get certified? Have I paid my dues?
While these are reasonable and important questions to ask, they might not be the ones that get to the heart of what you’re wanting to know. Here are some that do.
Your Teaching Philosophy
Sketch out a teaching philosophy for yourself that incorporates the following questions in as much detail as possible. It’s for you, so there’s no reason not to be thorough and completely honest. Write it down. You will come away from it with a clearer understanding of who you want to be as a teacher, how you’ll do it, and why.
• WHAT do I teach? Sure, you teach hoopdance. But are you an instructor of flow, tricks, fitness, play, healing, creative expression, meditation, some combination of these, or something else?
• WHY do I teach? What will you get from teaching hoopdance? What would you like those you teach to get from it? Push past the knee-jerk response (I just want to share my love of hoopdance!) You can do that in a park or your back yard. There’s something else that you want to create and nourish in a class setting. What is it?
• HOW do (or will) I teach? The answer to this one, of course, depends upon your true-blue responses to the first two. Unless you’re a natural — in which case, how you already teach may help you flesh out the what and why. Either way, the “how” of your teaching will eventually be the “wow “of your teaching. If you were to take out the standard go-to formula (demonstrate move, watch student execute move, correct student’s move), what’s left? How do you frame your class and exercises to encourage confidence and accomplishment of whatever your what and why goals are?
Your Learning Philosophy
It’s difficult to toss a ball if you don’t know how to catch it. And it will be just as important for you to understand as best you can how and why others seek out hoop instruction as it is to know how and why you want to teach it. That said, everything you know about learning to hoop may have little to do with what your students experience.
Since you can never anticipate or relate to the motivations and learning styles of every student, it will be crucial for you, and your ability to adapt as a teacher, to know your learning biases. Think about why and how you learned to hoop. Recognize your learning story as only one of many possible stories, and it will help you leave room for those you teach to write their own, within and outside the intentions of your classes.
Put It Together
Just as you will tell your students, you learn by doing. If you want to learn to teach, you have to teach. Do it for free or for donations, but do it. And teach more people you don’t know than those you do. Teach as many people as you can. Be honest with your students about what you’re doing and sit down at the end of class to invite feedback. Over time, you will wiggle into a conscious balance between what your students might want and what piece of it you have to offer. Be humble. Be fabulous. Be You. And, if and when you find it suits you, be Professor Hoop, Ph.D. Teaching is one of the most beautiful ways to keep learning.
Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Superhooper.org. Beyond commenting here, you can also discuss this and other topics related to the Hooposophy for living in Hooping.org’s Hooposophy Group and Gorum. Lara is also the planting and gardening force behind discovering our hooping community roots: The Hooping Family Tree Project.