Being a teacher is weird sometimes. It’s a lot like being a parent (but also not at all like being a parent). See? Weird. You praise your participants for the things they do beautifully, want to throttle them when they’re being naughty, and hold your breath in fear when they put themselves in harms way. When students make progress (or hell, even try really hard!), I nearly burst with pride. When they are disappointed in their work, my heart quite literally aches. When they choose to be naughty? That’s when the insanity comes in. So, are you making your poor teacher 50 shades of crazy?
Is One of these Students YOU?
The Flail and Bail
The hallmark of the Flail and Bail is PANIC. This student will work well right up until the point when they feel their arms getting tired, or a twinge of discomfort, and then all hell breaks loose. It’s like someone throwing a wet, angry, fabric-wrapped badger at your head. This participant will typically get into a wrap or position, panic, and then try to get out as quickly as possible (FLAIL!). This usually results in more pain, an awkward position, and a hopeless knot. If they do manage to get out, they then fling themselves off the fabric to the ground (BAIL!). The risk of injury is much higher for this student, and they require quite a bit of supervision.
Remedy: Approach new things cautiously, one small piece at a time. Low and slow is the name of the game! This is about feeling in control, so take charge of that fabric and your body. The goal isn’t completion of a move, it’s progress in a move. Can you only go half-way? TOTALLY FINE. I would rather have you working consistent baby-steps with good form than go for the whole she-bang and wind up caught by one foot hopping around going, “ow ow ow ow.” If flailing and bailing is your default mode, it’s time to reset, friend. You will get stronger, learn faster, and have more success by working in smaller increments! Trust me – it’s not my first rodeo.
The Let-Go Guy
About eight years ago, I was guiding a young man into splits. He was stable, good form, working well. He hung out in his splits for a while, then just let go. (????!!!!!!!!) He was quite low, so no harm done, but I was shocked. When I asked him why on earth he had taken his hands off, he responded, “I just felt like I could.” This was my first encounter with the student I’ll call The Let-Go Guy.
This lad or lady is the most terrifying of all students! They frequently take unexpected risks, push themselves beyond their capabilities, or deliberately ignore instruction; along with Flail and Bail, they are the most likely to be injured in a class. While my students know that their safety in class is their responsibility, no teacher ever wants to see a student get hurt. Having a Let-Go Guy in class means constant vigilance, as they are generally incapable of realistically assessing the risks in any given move.
Remedy: If you’re a Let-Go Guy or Gal, allow me to be candid. Knock it off. You are killing your teacher. Pay special attention to the contra-indications and instructions for moves. If your teacher says, “Do this low,” please don’t try to place it in the rafters. If she says, “Don’t take your hands off,” then don’t take your hands off. Not even one. Your coach has a different perspective than you do, and can see very real and immediate dangers that you cannot. By disregarding instruction, not only do you place yourself at risk, but you eat up all your instructors focus. Put on your listening ears, and do your teacher the courtesy of honoring his or her guidelines.
The Rafter Wrapper likes to work high. The problem comes when they get 15 feet up and forget steps 1-5 of whatever they are supposed to be doing, and you hear a little voice from above say, “So, now, what do I do?” Gah! Ironically, this student is almost ALWAYS a kinesthetic learner, meaning they learn by doing. So good luck talking them through the move! We might get there eventually, but it sucks all the coach’s focus, and takes up a good deal of class time.
Remedy: It’s simple: stay low until you’re supremely confident in what you’re supposed to be doing. If you’re working low, you have the benefit of my hands helping to spot you through moves – you’ll learn faster, and I won’t want to put you in time out when you come down. 😉
You and your teacher have the same goal: to bring out your breathtaking awesomeness.
I love my students. No really – I adore them, even the ones who test the limit of my sanity. I’ve even BEEN a number of these students before (ask Chris Delgado how many ways I make him crazy in wheel class – he’ll gladly tell you), so I know from whence I speak. Learning new things as an adult is HARD, especially if it’s something that doesn’t come easily. WHAT IF (and I’m talking to myself here, too) we got out of our own damned way and let our teachers teach us? You and your coach have the same goal: to bring out your breathtaking awesomeness. Your successes are my successes. Your heartbreak is my heartbreak. I worry about you, cheer for you, and wrack my brain for ways to get you from where you are to where you want to be. Work with me, not against me. And have a care for my mental health – I don’t need any more gray hairs! ….. Oh please, who are we kidding? My colorist and I are so tight, I’ll never see a strand of gray.
Next week, tune in to chat about class etiquette! It’s a conversation worth having. Love and pull-ups, Laura
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