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This was a request from one of our Email Readers...

We think this is an interesting subject and we're happy to share our thoughts about it.

We've experienced solo teaching and have taken classes from solo teachers, so we will give some tips on what we feel works well when teaching alone.

Our main view is that solo acro teaching is not our preference, especially in classes and workshops.

The reason we prefer to teach together is because we feel like partnership, communication and connection in such a big part of acro and it's good to demonstrate this through your teaching.

However there are some benefits to solo teaching, in that it can be easier to plan and organize a class.

You are not reliant on a co-teacher to match your schedule and don't need to practice together.

Plus you can make the class and teach exactly the way you want without any compromising.

There's some disadvantages and challenges too of course which we will discuss ahead...

There are some amazing teachers out there that teach solo.

Something worth noting is that these are mostly men and mostly bases. Wybren, Tom and Evan are three teachers we’ve taken classes from.

All of them choose a flyer that is joining the class to demo the skills with or they ask a duo to demonstrate.

Our experience from the workshops is that this works out fine and ultimately it comes down to this:

What is the level of the content of the class?

We can see how beginner and intermediate skills are safe enough to demo with people who have never done it before.

However there comes a point when the skills become more dynamic, technically difficult and with a higher safety risk which needs repetitions to learn and embody.

Think of martinis, front tucks, standing cascades and courbettes etc.

This is when it becomes unpredictable how the skill would go if you attempt it with a student. 

It makes it uncertain if you can keep it safe regardless of what happens and it’s beyond the point in the first place:

Demoing a skill is for the purpose of showing good technique and execution, not just ‘trying to make it happen’.

This is why in the standing courbette class from Evan that we took he demonstrated all the progressions, but when it came down to the full skill he fully explained it and then assisted the spotting himself.

It’s definitely possible to teach solo and we’ve identified some key tips that will make your solo classes a success!

1. Is your knowledge of both roles on point?

Even if you as a solo teacher are predominantly base or flyer; you need to know the technique and details of the other role very well to be able to teach in a balanced way.

This means knowing how to explain and teach it, being able to see what is missing or wrong in someone's execution and then being capable to give the right cues to fix it.

It can help to have experience in both flying and basing the skills you are teaching to gain this knowledge.

2. Is your embodiment of the skills so good that you can compensate for the other person when demonstrating?

For example, as a base teacher you are a bit dependent on the available flyers and their level if you decide to demo the skills with someone.

For the sake of demonstrating good form and technique it’s helpful to choose someone who’s already capable instead of someone who’s struggling with the skills.

But even so, as a teacher you’ll probably need to be able to compensate to make the skill happen and keep it safe.

This means you need to be confident and competent in your own abilities in the first place and then also have enough trust in the person you choose to demo with.

This requires appropriate assessment to judge who would be suitable for this and being observant of people’s practice and level in and outside of the class will help judge this with experience.

3. Make sure to give appropriate and equal attention to all roles.

A pitfall we’ve seen in solo teaching is that the predominant role of the teacher is given more focus.

For example, if the teacher is predominantly a base this shows when the majority of the cues are for this role and there is significantly less detailed information for the flyers role.

To prevent this try to give equal amount of time in your teaching to both roles and of course also the spotting.

4. Think outside the box

Are there other or new ways to enrich your teaching as a solo teacher?

Wybren approached this in an inspiring way. 

In one of the workshops we took from him he brought his laptop and showed the moves and transitions on video first to the whole group, then explained the technique and lastly demonstrated it with a student.

This might not always be desirable or possible, but it shows a smart solution to a problem: how to show the skill with proper technique?

5. Be efficient (cas's favourite thing)

This counts both for when explaining as well as coaching during the practice rounds.

Because you’re teaching all three roles it’s even more important to make your explanation short, to the point and with clear cues.

This is so it won’t take too long and the students can remember the direct instructions. 

And also because listening to one person speak for a longer period is harder to hold attention, compared to when in a pair the speaker changes back and forth regularly, maintaining the students attention.

During the rounds that the students are practicing, be aware that there is only one teacher (you) going around the room now to help instead of two.

To ensure you can help as many groups as you can you can be mindful to give clear and short cues to be efficient with your time.

Plus keep an eye on the class as a whole, you need to also maintain the overall view of the class to keep the structure and not have students feel ignored or bored.

6. Be adaptable

What happens if you ask the students to demo but their demonstration has very bad technique?

What about you teach a workshop solo at a festival and you suddenly have 50 students show up?

Be ready to adapt your class, your teaching and your plans to suit the situation.

In the first example of students showing bad technique you can step in to demonstrate, but you can also use it as a learning opportunity and explain to the whole group what needs changing.

Then you've also already coached that one group in the demo, so that's one less to deal with in the practice round.

In the example of lots of students showing up you can ask students to come get you if they are struggling in practice rounds, as you probably won't be able to get to every group each round.

This way the ones that most need the help will come to you and you can keep an eye better on the whole group.

The last bonus one that I think is essential is to bring confidence and leadership.

As a solo teacher you need to have control of the class and confidence and leadership is essential for that.

Having a clear voice and big presence helps gain the attention and respect from students.

We are really happy we got this topic requested, as we both have taught solo for privates and in a few classes.

But it's not something we talk about much, so it's nice to share something a little different.

So if you're a solo acro teacher we hope these tips help.

But also maybe consider finding a teaching partner because it's just so much more fun to teach together!!! hehe :)



Solo Acro Teaching


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