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Over-teaching? It’s (unofficially) a thing

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There is much said about the detrimental effects of over-training (a google search finds over one million results), but a different side of the same coin, and a rarely discussed one, is the subjectmatter of over-teaching.

While there is no official definition of over-teaching, you might be familiar with some of the symptoms all which result in lackluster classes that either you or your participants are enjoying. While the literature on over-training can be applied to over-teaching, as an Instructor there is an additional layer of complexity in the form of mental demands. Demands such as learning choreography, having to be “on” when teaching (when you are feeling anything but) and the energy that goes with “giving yourself” to classes. Some of the signs of over-teaching include:

  • Lack of enjoyment from your class
  • No motivation to learn choreography, or up-skill
  • As soon as one class is finished, dreading the next one immediately
  • Class numbers dwindling for no apparent reason
  • Having ‘nothing to give’ classes (mentally, emotionally)
  • Feeling extra drained after teaching a class
  • Becoming increasingly intolerant of behavior that never used to phase you in classes (for example members chatting, not putting in maximum effort or doing their own thing)

There will certainly be days where you feel all of these things – we’ve all been there! It’s when you are consistently, over a prolonged period experiencing these signs of over-teaching that you might need to re-assess and consider/ask yourself the following:

Get covers for a set period of time

There is a saying that goes ‘when you get tired don’t quit, just rest’. Before you throw in the towel in pure exhaustion, cut yourself some slack. Take a week or two off teaching your classes to rest and recover.

Do you need more “you” time?

Anyone in the business knows that teaching isn’t simply a 55 minute gig – there is the learning choreography and up-skilling that adds hours dedicated to that one class. Multiplied if you teach more than one program. Are your classes leaving no ‘you’ time? Do you need to dedicate some time to do your own training or other hobbies? You can’t ‘give’ yourself over to a class if you have nothing to give from. Does that mean you give up one class? One of your programs? This is better than the alternative of quitting altogether.

Are you de-motivated?

Do you need a ‘pep’ to find your mojo again? These might help:

  • Find a buddy to team-teach with (always more fun!)
  • Participate in someone else’s class (perhaps a program you don’t teach or have never done)
  • Get re-inspired with likeminded individuals at a Quarterly Workshop, or upskill at an Advanced Instructor Module (AIM)

Classes the same-same? Yawn.

Bored? Bored teaching? Teaching is boring? Every. Single. Class like dejavu? Perhaps focusing on different aspects of your classes will make them feel more interesting to you and re-ignite your enthusiasm. For example:

  • Remind yourself of the Track Focusses in your choreography notes and teach authentically from that focus
  • Concentrate on your layer two coaching or an aspect of coaching to nail during the class
  • Allow the music to speak more than you normally do
  • Choose a key element focus: e.g. today I’m going to focus on Connection, today I’m going to focus on the best Technique

Teaching should be a source of enjoyment

We don’t always get it right. Some weeks are better than others (did I really agree to all those fills?), but if the overarching feeling toward your classes is anything but enjoyment or satisfaction, perhaps it is time to reassess. The people in front of you vibe from your energy and classes are no fun for anyone when the energy levels are low. The benefits of the right blend of permanent classes and program types (for those teaching multiple programs) is that teaching is a source of joy for you. A job that fills you up rather than drains you.

There is no magic number or perfect blend of classes you should be teaching. Keep checking in on yourself. Be kind to yourself. You are doing an important job – and that important job requires you to look after yourself so you can look after those in front of you.