Sunday, April 5, 2015

Teacher as Learner


Sometimes, we need to experiment ourselves, to go beyond our comfort zones, test our limits and be in our students' shoes sometimes. How do they feel? This is something we have to take into consideration, explore, learn new things and be open in new things.
When the iTDi Blog with the subject "Teachers as Students" came out, I wanted so badly to write about my experience as a Learner, I did not do it, due lack of time.
Then, last week when Ken Wilson mentioned in his plenary talk that we teachers have to go back into the classroom to learn something new, a new language maybe, to empathize with our students,  I knew I had to write something about this.

Well, last year, I decided to do something completely different to foreign language teaching.
Sine I am a gym freak and my passion is spinning ( cycling in a static bike), I thought why not? And I went on to a fitness school to learn how to become a spinning instructor.
My age was and still is a deterring factor and I knew I would never find a job in this profession, but I went anyway to gain a different experience and also prove to myself (and some others) that I could do it!
The training consisted of 2 parts: theoretical and practical.
In the theoretical one, which was not that much of theory, we were given basic info on the different brands of bikes in the market, their differences, also the parts of the bikes and what they do, the muscles that are being trained, heart rates and in the end how to find the right music for each training (depending of the difficulty).
In the practical part we took part in the 4-5 different types of trainings and the instructor explained to us why we do what we do.
We then had to take part in 10 sessions of the school as trainees.
To be honest, I did not learn much from the school, except maybe the medical information. I now know how much my heart rate should be when I am calm and how much my limits are. (so if I get angry I can measure my pulse and control my nerves). I've also learned all the leg muscles - before then, I had not heard the word "Iliopsoas" before....
The bike parts I knew already. The training styles I knew already ( I had been spinning way more than the other trainees, who were still at PE college).
And the music? I was already creating choreos, even before I attended the sessions...
No I am not a PE teacher and I will never become one, but yes I could spin.
What I found interesting though, was not when I was actually on the bike, but when I was observing a spinning lesson, sitting down.

Although I am a kinaesthetic learner, and I learn better by doing, this time I learned better watching.
I "shazamed" the songs that were used, counted the beat, watched how the music was used and the purpose of the training. I learned a lot.
Not only for my spinning, but also for my teaching. Sometimes, it's better to stand back and observe your students. Are they noisy? Are they bored? Are they happy? Tired? Can you do something about it? Do your activities have purpose?
Watch somebody else's lessons! Do you like them? What don't you like? Are they similar to yours?
Don't compare just watch!

BTW, I passed the exam! I am a certified spinning instructor!!
I know I will never work as one, but the whole experience HAS made me a better teacher!


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