Today after our 8:20 Pure Barre class, Jess and I stayed after to talk to Lauren, the owner, about how to tweak our form so that we could get the maximum effect from the exercises. She went through some common mistakes that people make in tricep work, thigh sprints, round back, flat back, and abs, then explained how the changes in form will help. For example, in triceps kickbacks, the cue is to try to get the weights behind your back so that you cannot see them in the mirror. However, when people do this, their arms often bend a bit instead of remaining straight. Keeping the arms straight activates two parts of the triceps and creates more of a burn. Lauren watched me and Jess do some of the moves and pinpointed where we could make corrections. She also took time to answer our questions about specific moves (e.g., what we should do about hip tightness preventing us from lifting our left knees in pretzel). Though our conversation was less than ten minutes, I think it will pay off in terms of how much more effective class will be!
The classroom teacher takeway: Lauren’s willingness to help students after class, transparency about the design of the class, and ability to make accurate corrections.
I always encourage my students to come see me for extra help if they need it, but I still would like more to come in to do so. The ones who do have seen big improvements in their quiz & test scores. I’ve been able to look at their work and take more time to give feedback and help them figure out how to correct where they are going wrong. This can be hard to do in a 53-minute class when many students are requesting help on a new concept. Similarly, Lauren has mentioned that it is difficult to make corrections to students for exercises that last only 60 seconds. The students don’t have an opportunity to practice using the feedback until the next class, and they might not fully understand what the cue means.
A few days ago, I had a student come in for extra help because he had fallen way behind in class. When I gave him a set of problems (with answers) to do, he said “okay, I’ll do them at home.” I said “no, just stay and work through them for 10 minutes.” Another student wandered in during this time to stay hello. She often stays after to ask for help and get her homework done before going home. The struggling student commented that he was having trouble, and she walked over to him to look at his work.
This turned out way better than if I had just corrected his mistakes in setting up the cosine rule problem. The girl stayed to watch him and offer feedback as he tried the next three in the sequence, and after he got them right, he said to her “what do you want to be when you grow up? you should be a math teacher.” She’s a future Lauren in the making!