Earlier this year I wrote quite a long post about teaching with tips for teachers. Having re-read it recently I think there are a couple more tips that are also important. More fundamental, perhaps, than what I wrote then. This is what I’m talking about here.
1. Lesson Planning
Have a plan, let your students know it and make sure you stick to it. Now it is fine to go off on a tangent if something relevant comes up, but make sure you get back to the main thing you had planned to do, and make sure you do it.
Tell your students what you’re planning on teaching them, and then teach them that. If you want to be really awesome, summarise what they’ve learned at the end. This is the older teacher’s hat trick of “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them it, then tell them what you told them.” One of the best examples of this I’ve had lately is the ATS Classes at Drummond High School. On the first day of term I was given a list of the moves I’d be learning during the term. And we did learn all the moves that were on the sheet. They also handed out a suggested music list and some biographical information about the teacher, which was very helpful and informative.
To help keep you on track a playlist can be really helpful. If you’ve planned it out beforehand, you can pick music that suits what you want to teach in the class. You can have your warm-up music, then music suitable to whatever you’re teaching, and lastly the cool-down music. Build your playlist so that it’s as long as your class is. Then, if that’s running in the background, the start of the cool-down music will remind you it’s time to start winding down the lesson, stretching out and summarising what you’ve taught that day or so far that term. It will also help keep you on time, which leads nicely onto the next tip:
2. Time Management
Be mindful of the time. There’s nothing wrong with looking over at a clock or your watch to check how much time there is left in the class and adjusting your teaching accordingly. Make sure you bring a watch or a clock – don’t rely on the venue!
I know that sometimes it can be rude to check your watch – teaching is not one of those times. When teaching, it is rude not to be mindful of time. If you don’t pay attention to time you could overrun. This is particularly problematic if there is another class waiting to get into your space. There was one particular class I was a student of where the (non-bellydance) class before always overran by 3-5 minutes and that ate into our time. It was so frustrating. We use to stand at the side and jingle our coin belts to try and give their teacher a not-so subtle hint.
Even when you’re not eating into another classes’ time, if you overrun you are eating into your students time. They will more than likely have somewhere to be once class is over. In your class there are probably a few busy people who have every minute of the day accounted for. There may be students who have arranged childcare to cover the class and need to get back to their kids promptly. If you don’t finish on time you are eating into their time, time which they have not agreed to give you when they signed up for the class.
I once had a workshop that started very late because we were all chatting, teacher included. Because of the late start the workshop overran by at least 30 minutes. I say “at least” because at that point I had to leave as I’d made arrangements for later in the day and couldn’t stay any longer. The workshop kept going after I left. That teacher’s lack of timekeeping meant I had to choose between missing out on teaching I’d already paid for and was looking forward to, or being late/missing the thing I’d planned for later. So while it might seem rude to start a class when people are still chatting, it’s really not. You are being respectful of everyone’s time.
Many thanks to the lovely Atiya who got me thinking about this. She’s starting classes up in Dundee – if you’re in the area go check them out!