I have been taking a zumba class with a friend once a week. Zumba, if you aren't familiar with it, is a workout latin dance class where the point is to move constantly for a solid hour, as opposed to becoming a better dancer. I blogged about it here. It has been fun, although I am pretty uncoordinated. I can't move BOTH my feet AND my hands at the same time...I'm just sayin'.
The usual instructor is this tiny waif of a woman who appears to be dancing even when she is just walking around. She teaches something like 8 zumba classes a week, including three in a row on Saturdays. But on Monday, she had a guest instructor that stepped in for a dance or two, and as a teacher, I instantly saw a huge difference. The guest instructor was very good. She moved like a panther and her hips did things I am pretty sure mine will never do. Ever.
But she watched herself in the mirror the entire time, not the class. She didn't once tell us what to do, just did things (fast) and expected the entire class to follow along. So of course, I started thinking about teaching in my classroom.
I wonder how often I am like the guest instructor, more enamored of hearing my own voice than I am interested in making sure my students actually get the concepts and understand what is going on. It is easy to just assume that everyone gets a concept, because especially in high school, the ones who don't get it, don't speak up. They sit there quietly and hope they get it, like I stood and swayed in the back of the studio because I didn't get it.
The regular instructor is a great instructor. She models every step slowly, then the class practices them slowly for several repetitions before putting them together and going faster. She circulates throughout the classroom, correcting steps, helping students individually, and is vocal with encouragement and warnings about what is coming up.
This is the kind of teacher I want to be. I want to be more encouraging, I want to be more aware of when my students "get it" or don't get it, I want to figure out ways to help students be more successful in my class.
So thanks, mysterious zumba teacher, for making this particular lesson stick in my mind.