Hot For Teacher: Observing Stacey Mulvey

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Part of becoming an instructor at Boulder Spirals is watching other instructors work. I’ve watched Sasha Viers a ton of times but I’ve always been focused on putting her words in my body rather than paying close attention to how she’s using her words. Of course there was a lot of word smithing during the instructor training but that was kind of overwhelming because I, the trainee, was on the spot. So sitting on the couch at the studio, watching Stacey Mulvey work with a group of seven students, pen in hand, I could notice things that I never noticed before.

First: Everyone doesn’t have to do it perfectly. Stacey broke down the moves and taught it to her students, then she worked with individuals who seemed to be struggling. She wasn’t harping on anyone to do it just so, she wanted them to get a feel for it and have fun. No one is going to perfect a move in a one-hour class so the focus was on the basics and enjoyment.

Second: A little bit of humor goes a long way. Stacey managed to work some wit into situations that might have otherwise been tense. When she had everyone with a knee up on the pole and their butts fanning out towards the back of the room, she patted her rump and said, “This is the money shot ladies, and don’t forget to wave to your friends!” Peals of laughter broke the tension.

Third: You can make a class flow. When I first saw the curriculum for the one-hour class, I honestly didn’t know how I was going to fit it all in. But Stacey had one piece flow into the other so naturally that the class hustled right along and everything got done.

Fourth: Be gentle. Taking a pole class for the first time is a little scary and a lot exciting. It’s a totally new activity for both your body and your brain, and it involves letting go of your inhibitions. Stacey started her class by preparing everyone for how challenging it might be and encouraged people to be gentle with themselves and speak kindly to their bodies. It’s easy for that critical task-master to show up when you are standing in a room of mirrors and wearing booty shorts and little else.

Fifth: You don’t have to talk that much. I’m a nervous talker and I was approaching the curriculum like I was teaching to blind people. Students learn a lot by watching first and then being cued through the movement. I don’t need to present a dissertation on how to execute a perfect girl-on-top, but I do need to 1) demonstrate it correctly 2) break it into steps 3) cue, and 4) observe where students are getting hung up.

Sixth: I don’t have to be Sasha Viers or Stacey Mulvey. Sasha never once said, “Do it just like me.” She did say that she wanted things taught in a certain order and with the proper technique, but she wanted us to use our own words and find our own unique teaching styles. I didn’t really get this until I saw Stacey teach. Yes, the class was similar to the one I took way back in February, but it had its’ own personality and rhythm.

As I packed up my things to go I took note of the energy in the room. One woman had taken Stacey’s Level One class before and was back for more simply because she really liked Stacey. Others were completely new and inquired about further classes. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and expand a little during that hour. I can only imagine how good that made Stacey feel.

So next up for me is memorizing my class and privately experimenting on a few friends before I teach my first free class. Anyone in?

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