Teaching Up – what I learnt about teaching in Pilates class


Photo credit: Robert Bejil Productions via Foter.com / CC BY

The first thing I learnt was that I am the stiffest, most un-supple person in the world – it’s amazing I can bend at all.

The second thing I learnt brought to mind something Carol Tomlinson refers to as TEACHING UP in Assessment & Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom. Echoing Demand High “teaching up” is how Carol refers to what we should be aiming for in our teaching. She says, rather than aiming low and easy, we should plan work that would challenge our most able students, and then work at providing the necessary scaffolding to enable all students to work and learn successfully.I like this idea, all too often I feel we don’t stretch good students enough, figuring that if they already have the required skills for this particular class then we should concentrate on helping weaker students. This leaves up to half the class just as unsatisfied as if you aimed your lesson at the top 5-10% and left the others behind.

I think as teachers, we feel that we are doing our job better if we aim our teaching at the weaker students, and maybe that’s not necessarily right.

By coincidence my Pilates teacher is also called Carole, and she showed me what I should be doing in my classroom.

Carole, doesn’t differentiate and give me easy things to do like bend my leg while the others get to perform much bendier stuff. Carole models excellence and assumes we are all capable of it. She gives the impression that with perseverance and work we will all be able to lick our elbows any day now (go on admit it, you just tried didn’t you!!).

To argue with Carole’s unflagging optimism would be to show a fixed mindset, and we don’t want any of that around, do we?

Carole doesn’t spend all lesson trying to bend me into something impossible fortunately, she knows that it’s more affective to get me to work on trying to tweak one muscle or joint before moving on.

Carole gets the most out of each, individual student each lesson, and does so with a grin, she actually seems happy to see us when we arrive and her enthusiasm is infectious. It is impossible to leave her class without feeling proud about having achieved something – even if it is only bending my leg, and that is what I have learnt about teaching from my Pilates class.

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About fabenglishteacher

I've been teaching English for a few years now and this blog is part of my never-ending quest to make learning English more fun, and easier for my students.
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