Before my first acro dance Teacher’s Certification Course, I had never attempted acrobatics and strongly felt that it was something that my body would never be able to do. Growing up, I was not the strongest or the most suited body type to be an acrobat & when my teacher used to add cartwheels to our Across the Floor progressions in Jazz class, I was so terrified that I cried!
In 2014 I nervously enrolled in my first acro dance Teacher’s Certification course.
What has surprised me the most about teaching Acro is how easy it is once you have the skills, knowledge, & confidence. The acro dance Syllabus builds upon fundamental skills, which is incredibly useful for a teacher who has no previous Acro experience. Once you understand how acro dance works, teaching Acro is really very easy & fun.
I like to use a lot of props in my classroom. For example, when teaching handstands at the wall, I hang a piece of string above the students’ feet, which encourages them to push & lengthen out of their shoulders. If they are sinking in their shoulders and not pushing the floor away, they won’t be able to find it. I also use coloured bands with my students – they wear a bright colour on their dominant side & black on their non-dominant side. This has been especially valuable for me as a teacher, as it means that I can quickly know which side to spot on, but also helps the kids understand the difference between their dominant & non-dominant side.
I have also created a few games for my kids – one of their favourites is the “Tumbles Game.” Each student gets a turn at rolling the dice & choosing the card with the corresponding number. The card will indicate a skill & then I get creative with how we’re going to work on the skill (e.g. Across the Floor, Balancing Competition, or Variations). I like to play this game once every four weeks: it breaks up the usual routine and also gives the kids a revision lesson when I can check for any holes in technique & see whether we can move on or need to spend more time on a particular skill.
I believe it is crucial to put a lot of effort into your planning & teaching at the start. Being an Acro teacher is very hands-on, and, like everything in life, you only get out what you put in. The more effort you put in, the more your students will learn & enjoy themselves. It is also vital for Acro teachers to instruct their classes safely as we are working with kids who are still growing and need to have functioning bodies for the rest of their lives. I firmly believe that we have a responsibility to our students.
It is so rewarding to watch students progress from year to year & being present when they finally master a difficult skill that they have been working on for weeks. My students often make fun of me because I get overly excited when students achieve their walkovers or even one-arm cartwheels – I’m pretty sure the teachers in the next room can hear me! But I think it is important to show support and praise students when they master their tricks as it builds their confidence & indicates that you care about them.
Another rewarding aspect of teaching Acro is growing as an acrobat myself. I have been slowly working through the Junior 1 Syllabus in class and can finally perform that cartwheel I have waited 10 years to get!