[Hooping.org columnist Shannon Herrington offers her tips for teaching.]
So you’ve learned the art of hooping and now friends, onlookers, even family are wanting you to teach them the skills you’ve spent months or years learning. Of course they do! They see the joy it has brought you and want to share in the fun. In fact, even before I had completely figured out how to waist hoop, I was teaching my friends how to hoop. Teaching classes or friends becomes a learning experience for everyone. Each time I teach a class, I learn new things.
Over the last few months, I’ve been able to start branching out by offering hooping classes in my community through gyms, my workplace and hoop jams. What better way to share, and learn, your new passion than to teach someone else? Teaching can not only benefit others, but also help you learn more about yourself in the hoop. Perhaps you’ve built enough confidence to feel like you can teach someone else, but how do you even go about getting started? Here are my eight tips for teaching others how to hoop, even if your students are just your friends.
1. Know Your Students and Facility. This is important for any teacher. For instance, at a gym a class needs to be quite structured, while a structured hoop class would be impossible to teach at a local nursing home. I can prepare specific exercises and moves to teach at my classes at the gym, while other classes need to be much more loose and open. Remember that not all of your students want to be super hoopers in training. Many may become your average casual hooper and that’s okay. Knowing the preferences of your students and friends can help you as you coach them. I like to give constructive criticism sandwiched between two compliments. One student told me not to use the compliment sandwich when troubleshooting for them, whereas some people prefer it. Once you know your students in your classes, you will be able to be a more effective teacher.
2. Warm Up and Cool Down. Warming up helps the body prepare for physical activity and helps prevent injury. I know this all too well from personal experience. Last December, I hurt my tendon by failing to warm up and the rest period that followed was agony. No one wants to be derailed by an injury. A post workout cool down is also essential for allowing the heart rate to lower, prevent blood pooling in the legs and help get rid of lactic acid build up. You can allow your students to stretch, hoop at a slow pace to a calm song, walk around the room, anything that keeps them moving enough to slow their heart rate down significantly and recover from the workout they’ve undoubtedly received from class.
3. Change Things Up in a Standard Framework. Having a standard class format provides a sense of security for your students. While the exercises in each class my be different, the students can have confidence that the structure of the class will remain the same. Yet no one likes to repeat the same class over again. Most experts agree that people should keep variety in their workout programs to prevent boredom, fatigue and ineffectiveness too, especially if you’re interested in teaching fitness. It’s important as a teacher to make sure classes are varied to keep your students engaged. Be sure that you are interested and enthused while you are teaching as well. If the teacher seems aloof, this will be reflected in your students. Remember variety is the spice of life!
4. Music. Music can be critical for a teacher. If it’s too loud, your students won’t be able to hear you speaking. If it is too quiet, your students can’t get immersed in their creative flow. Make a playlist that is appropriate for ALL of your students. When choosing music keep in mind the audience you are playing too. Like your class material try to choose music that bridges all different types. Just because you like dubstep, doesn’t mean that everyone will feel at home with a big bass drop.
5. Notes are Okay. I always keep a small set of notes with me as I teach. Sometimes it’s simple as what moves I’ll be teaching or key language that I’m afraid that I might forget. Some days I don’t need them, but other days I refer to my notes with each exercise I teach. Notes also show students that you have taken the time and preparation to teach the class. While some seasoned teachers may no longer need notes, this is the exception rather than the rule. In fact, I’ve seen some teachers that have 3 pages worth of notes for their classes. Having a set of notes for a class can act as a safety net, especially when you may be feeling nervous about teaching.
6. Have Hoops of All Sizes. This may seem obvious, but it doesn’t happen in all of the classes out there. Remember people of all shapes and sizes will be coming to learn about hooping. In some of my more relaxed classes, there is a higher need for larger hoops too because we spin at a slower pace. In my structured gym classes, I’ve learned that I need a variety of hoops in all sizes and weights that are accessible to all the students in attendance.
7. Be Aware of Your Language. There are two reasons to watch your language. First, you want to make sure that all of the language you are using is positive. You do not want to give people preconceived notions that a trick is hard. Starting off saying, “I know this is really hard, but it’s worth it” can create a mental firewall for the student. Think back to being in a classroom setting yourself. In most instances those teachers who gave positive encouragement received better results from us and we were more likely to enjoy their classes. Now it’s our turn to spread the hoop love. Give your students positive encouragement as they are hooping. Let them know that they are doing well. The second important factor to remember about language is watch your language if you’re in a professional setting. Use appropriate language and keep your boundaries in terms of what is discussed. While hoop jams are a bit more lenient, be respectful if there are kids around too.
8. Know What Kind of Teacher You Are. I thought I would love teaching hooping as more of a fitness model because I’ve had a great deal of experience with fitness DVDs and classes. However, I found that after teaching both fitness directed and hoop dance related classes, I gravitate towards teaching hoop dance more than fitness. For me personally, teaching fitness alone had the potential to bore me and a bored teacher makes for a boring class. You must understand who you are as a teacher and know what you love to teach. You’ll be able to offer everyone a fun and exciting time when you’re having fun yourself!
Teaching others to hula hoop is such a joy. The look on someone’s face when the are suddenly able to do a new move is such an amazing gift. Hooping brought me out of the darkness of my life and now I can share this brightness with others. You can too! I like to check in with my students once they’ve been waist hooping for awhile. I’ll ask, “How does it feel to be able to do something you’ve never been able to do?” The amazement they respond with let’s me know it’s all worth it and I know exactly how they feel. People may come to your event to get a quick “target toning” hoop lesson, but may walk out a happier person with a better body image. I am delighted to be a witness to the changes I see in my students and friends with each lesson that I give.