Let Yourself Be A Student

Episode 09

Making the transition from student to teacher can be a challenging process. You need to go from concentrating on yourself to focusing on leading an entire class and paying attention to every single student in the room! Plus, you’re now using your voice to communicate instructions to a large group of people, sometimes for hours at a time. There is also the difficult challenge of managing teachers who attend your class and struggle to adapt to their role as a student. Today we explore all of this and more as we unpack the do’s and don’ts of being a student teacher, why generosity is such a wonderful characteristic in the classroom, and how to approach tricky scenarios in the studio. We also reflect on the luxury of attending other people’s classes as a student, and the power of starting on a clean slate and allowing yourself to learn something new. To learn more about the journey from student to teacher, and how to let yourself be a student, be sure to tune in!


Key Points From This Episode:


  • The challenges of going from student to teacher.
  • Learning how to use your voice when becoming a teacher.
  • A reminder to use your chest voice, rather than your head voice, when teaching.
  • Starting on a clean slate and allowing yourself to learn something new.
  • The luxury of taking classes with someone else.
  • Sharing is Caring: Why generosity is integral to teaching.
  • Teaching other teachers, and how to create space for an exchange of ideas.
  • Identifying your expectations as a student and when to share them with the teacher.
  • Examples of how coaches can struggle to occupy the role of student.
  • Why, as a student or coach taking a class, you should never correct other students.



CT: Welcome to our next episode. Today, we would like to talk about, can a coach be a student, and can a student be a coach? So, maybe you have some people or maybe you teach some students or you teach some coaches and sometimes you see the person cannot be a student, because it always wants to lead. The person always knows already about the next exercise is. Knows what is going on. Talking in your class to you for example, why are you actually trying to do your job as a coach? That’s a big question and what’s the thing around it.




[0:00:39] HT: Welcome. Stick around if you want to learn about the art and philosophy of beautiful movement mixed with evidence-based exercise science. We’ll be having tough and inspiring conversations with other coaches, experts, artists and athletes. Our goal is to challenge myths, explore concepts and engage in healthy debate as we dive deep with intrigue and curiosity. 


I’m your host, Hannah Teutscher. I’ve been teaching dance, Pilates and yoga for over two decades. What I’ve learnt is that movement can be the joy that integrates us all together. When we can trust and express ourselves through our bodies, we are unlimited in our ability to change ourselves and our communities for the better. We as movement teachers and coaches have the power to help people experience this war themselves. Okay, everyone. Let’s dive in. Exchanging ideas and changing people’s lives one session at a time. This is The Pilates Exchange.




[0:01:37] CT: Maybe I can start also, again. We’re referring a lot always to our dance career, because this took most of our lives. I danced in total 23 years. It’s just more over the half of my life. The thing was for me the hardest time becoming from a student being a dancer that someone is in front of you, always telling you, “Okay, do this, do this, do this.” Then changing the side is first of all you have to be much more prepared.


[0:02:06] HT: What do you mean changing the side? 


[0:02:07] CT: Changing the side, that you’re from a student being the coach.


[0:02:10] HT: Being a teacher.


[0:02:10] CT: Being a teacher. You’re standing in front of the crowd and there you have like 10, 40, 500, eyes looking at you. What we’re going to do today? You would just come in like, “Okay, I don’t know what we’re going to do.” You need to be prepared much more than being the dancer, being the student, because you have to have a plan. When you’re the student, you’re just receiving, you just do what the teacher is doing in front of you. Then also as the teacher as the coach you have to talk much more. As a dancer, we didn’t really talk, so it was for me the hardest time just finding words and not saying every second. I don’t know.


[0:02:45] HT: Yeah. It’s interesting, because I started teaching actually really young in comparison to you. I was already in high school when I started choreographing and leading bigger groups of people, so up to about 50 people moving at the same time. I was thrown into that earlier and got to develop my voice, but I did notice that was a real struggle for you, going from dance, being a follower to the leader specifically with leading through your voice.


[0:03:19] CT: Yeah, exactly. Also, the first time when I taught my three, four, five hours a day for the first couple weeks, my throat was constantly sore, because I also didn’t really know, didn’t really learn how to use my voice. I realised I was not using my chest voice. I was using my head voice all the time. My voice tendons, they were constantly tired, but I realised that also after and I also didn’t really know that it’s so interesting that how much power you have in your words, what you can do with it. You can lead someone without showing it that’s really interesting, but I wanted to go to you actually, not actually the topic is it’s really important as a student than if you becoming a coach. 


Then also actually what I want to refer is, yeah, then as a coach being a student for example when we had like to learn a new choreographer came in in the theatre or whatever a new person who taught us a new technique, what I tried to do is I tried to make space and I told myself you forget everything you learnt in the past. Give the person who’s in there the chance to teach you something, makes space for new information, because if you then always getting distracted by, “But my other times teacher told me to keep the leg parallel, but this one told me to lift the leg up. Then you have to in turn rotate your hip.” You notice this is distracting for yourself that you’re always combining information with these things together. That helped me making space, allowing my brain to have space for something new.


[0:04:56] HT: I think that’s so right. Now, as professionals, as coaches like when we go to take classes with other people. The best thing that we could do is be the empty slate. Learn whatever is being taught to us, but also being open to have some goals like asking the teachers afterwards, so not replace that questions their authority, but asking why they chose this over that without comparison and without judgment, because that’s the exciting thing, like we don’t have all the answers ever.


[0:05:28] CT: Yeah, exactly. For us, I remember when we were going to take classes I was excited to take class, because now we’re teaching, we’re leading all the time. It’s good that you just sit back in the corner. I don’t have to sit in the front get the attention of the teacher. Actually, I want just to get the information what I should do. I don’t want to think what’s the next exercise is also like that a luxury of what you have as a coach not preparing what an exercise is good preparing yourself before.


[0:05:55] HT: I love that. It is a luxury to be taking classes with someone else, so we try to always do that. I have had in my experience, though places I will not name them ever, but places where I was not allowed to take class, because I am a teacher and they felt threatened by my presence. I really don’t understand that – movement is meant to be shared. I don’t steal people’s idea like everything that’s already been done or is out there has already been done before. There’s no real unique stuff there. It’s only about the authenticity that’s behind the teaching, right? It was really sad, actually to not be allowed to enjoy being a student there. 


[0:06:37] CT: Would you agree on that phrase sharing is caring? 


[0:06:40] HT: Sharing is always caring. 


[0:06:41] CT: Yeah.


[0:06:41] HT: That’s what I say, always, like anyone that comes to us we will share any information we have with that person. There’s no holding back. We want to be the most generous teachers out there, because that’s what it’s all about, right? Teaching.


[0:06:56] CT: I have two questions for you. 


[0:06:58] HT: Yeah. I wanted to talk about the old Hannah. Not having so much experience as a coach and the new one. I’m going to try to explain a situation. The old Hannah’s not really experienced with teaching-coaching at the beginning of your coaching-teaching career. Another really experienced teachers going to take your class. What did the old Hannah do? What would the actual current Hannah do, dealing in that situation with the, “What is the teachers – did teachers much more experience in me than me and things, stuff like, you know what I’m trying to say.


[0:07:30] HT: I do what you want – but I really started teaching very young. I started teaching movement, I was a teenager. I think my experience is a little bit different, but when I was younger, I think I would be, if I remember back. I was intimidated maybe by other people. I don’t think I withheld information, but it definitely made me want to try to impress the person that I felt was important, like the teacher, the superior, as they say. So, maybe I would have made bad decisions on like focusing more on that person, trying to make them happy. I want my students to be happy, but it’s not about teaching that one person.


The difference from now is that if I do have another teacher taking my class. Now, we have hundreds of teachers that normally take our classes. It’s about finding communication, finding a way to be generous with the information that I have, but also learning from our other teachers, right? We try to hold space always to have a conversation either before or after class, so we could break down things and have questions and why do you do this? Maybe I have a question for them. It’s more of a dialogue. I guess that’s what I’m looking for. Now it’s a dialogue like it usually is with our say normal non-coach students. Does that make sense to you? 


[0:08:57] CT: Yeah. Yeah. It brings me to the next question after all this. Do you have as a when you’re taking class someone else, do you have any expectations or what your expectations of the teacher or for the teacher? I don’t know what’s the right preposition?


[0:09:13] HT: That’s such a great thing. Okay, so if I am going to take someone else’s class as a professional. All right, now as a teacher. I go in and I say, I’m doing a masterclass with someone. I’m the student and I just want to learn. Whatever is on the agenda from that person, that’s the thing that I want to learn and I just open myself up and get information. If you and I are just out like we just recently got back from vacation, so we were taking some fitness classes and we’re exploring, just seeing what was there. In that case, what I do is just I go in as a student. 


I just want to move, teach me whatever. Just lead me through. So, that’s a different thing. The last thing I want to say, so it’s like number one is taking masterclass, teaching me whatever you want that’s on the agenda. Number two is I just want to be an athlete. I just want to be led, so I can focus on myself. That’s one. Then the last one is if there’s a teacher that I really would love to understand more about their method, their pedagogy. 


Then I communicate what my expectations are or what my questions are in the beginning, like before the class, so that they can find a way hopefully, to help me understand those things, because of course if you’re just taking a one-off class or even just a few classes with someone. You only get a snippet of their entire life experience. If I want to learn something specific, I let them know, “Hey, I love the way that you cue. I’m specifically looking like I just want to soak it all up. Let’s talk about it, so that I do have an agenda, but if I have an agenda, I let it be known for the teacher.


[0:10:58] CT: Then you would for example also as a student, already when you come into class, you go to the teacher and tell, “Oh, I have some physical things in here and there.” Just before, would you recommend doing that if you have some things that the teacher know or as a coach would you prefer that that someone has come to you before the class? 


[0:11:15] HT: I do well. I had a situation recently with a lovely teacher in Munich. The situation was this. I had a follow-up appointment after my hip replacement and to celebrate, so I went to Munich which is the next big city over. After the appointment, I just wanted to go and celebrate movement again, because I hadn’t taken a class with anyone for a while. So, when I went into the studio I had booked my class and went into the studio I always want to try to have a short conversation with the teacher before and I said, “Hey. My name is Hannah. I live in the next town over.” She said, “Hey, I think I know you from Instagram.” 


We had a quick conversation about that. I think it threw her off in the beginning. I said, “Look, you know what, I have this injury. I’m going to be taking care of myself. I am here to enjoy your class. There’s no judgment here. I just, I love movement and I’m so excited to be here.” From that point on, I had a great time. Her class was brilliant. It was so much fun. I think it let her also relax into the teaching and to know that she’s not going to break my new hip, because I know the modifications that I need to do. So, the answer to that question. Yeah, I try to let other professionals know when I’m in the class. Not everyone likes that. I don’t know. I guess that’s such a personal thing, right? What do you think? 


[0:12:37] CT: Yeah. Great situation, probably for her, the teacher who’s got a little insecure on Hannah’s coming. She was a dancer and then you get as a teacher. A little insecure, that’s probably good that just breaking the ice a little bit like that.




[0:12:49] HT: When I started teaching, I felt underprepared and overwhelmed. I needed to learn how to plan my training so that it made sense, but I wasn’t sure what was working and what wasn’t. So many teacher training programmes leave out the actual art and business of teaching This is why we created Train the Trainers. 


Train the Trainers is designed to give you the tools you need to create a powerful learning environment for your students. Gain access to the vault of our collected knowledge where you can learn everything, we have to teach you, whether you are a freelance teacher or a studio owner. Get constructive feedback on your teaching with actionable tools you could apply immediately. We can’t wait to be part of your teaching journey and to help you grow in your business. Welcome to Train the Trainers.




[0:13:37] CT: One last question for you. Have you had as a coach in your class a student who couldn’t be a coach, who couldn’t let go of leading, but actually, the trainer or the coach was there to take your class, but the person was a student in this case, because you were leading the class? 


[0:13:56] HT: Yes. 


[0:13:58] CT: We don’t have to say names. 


[0:13:59] HT: I’m not going to say names. It’s happened a few times. It’s a very unpleasant situation. Yeah.


[0:14:04] CT: As a coach or as a student? In your case.


[0:14:06] HT: I think, both. What is that saying, like too many chefs in the kitchen, like too many cooks in the kitchen. As a teaching institute, we have our teacher trainers. We have other people that do their observation hours with us. I try to always make it clear what the person that’s leading the class is the person that’s leading the class. You are not to be making corrections on another student. I really try to nip that in the bud, because that is unacceptable and unprofessional and not allowed. 


[0:14:38] CT: Wait a second. You’re just saying that a coach was taking your class being a student was giving corrections to your students in their class.


[0:14:45] HT: Yes.


[0:14:46] CT: Okay. I just wanted to – okay, good. Continue.


[0:14:49] HT: Any of you listeners out there, do not do that, especially if you’re not there all the time. You probably don’t know maybe the background on the students that are around you. At least in our studio, we know the ins and outs of every person that’s coming in. We know their backstory. We know their medical history. We know everything. If I am choosing to not give someone a correction. It’s not because I don’t see it. It’s because on their learning path. It’s not the appropriate cue or correction for that person at that time.


I’m just thinking back this one situation, but we’ve had several. The teachers in the class. They were participating as a student. They just kept on giving corrections to the person that was next to them. I had to tell the – I was like, “Stop. You are a student. Please don’t do that. Don’t distract.” Is what – I think I said that, “Please don’t distract the other people.” 


[0:15:45] CT: She was basically or he, the person was basically distracting itself or not – first of all distracting itself from being a student and not allowing it. I’m going to say itself, because we’re not going to say he or she, but in the end it doesn’t matter. It didn’t allow herself also being a student. There are some do’s and not do’s, being a coach – 


[0:16:08] HT: Do’s and don’ts.


[0:16:10] CT: Do’s and not do’s, you know what I mean. We can probably make a list and shouldn’t do, don’t do’s. 


[0:16:18] HT: A better way for that person to have handled the situation is afterwards to come up to me and say “Hey, I had a real problem that you didn’t correct the this in that person, right? Then I would have been able to have on a respectful conversation with my peer about why I didn’t do that correction for that person and that would have been a learning opportunity for the other teacher. 


[0:16:48] CT: If that would happen in my class, I would just say, like if the person’s called, that would have happened the same. She was like, “First of all, it’s my class. Second of all, it’s my class. Third of all, thank you so much for joining me today. 


[0:17:01] HT: No, I mean if the person had talked to me afterwards. I gladly, and because that’s what it as a teaching institute, right? Like I gladly share information why I would choose this, why I didn’t do this, because I think that’s interesting. There’s no right to wrongs here, as far as the teaching goes. It’s just my opinion and my experience from my history of why I’m choosing those things. But it is our theme for today was letting yourself as a professional be a student, right? It is a luxury to be a student and to take it all in. I wish that more of us would do that. You could still gather information after the class and break it down, and write the teacher an email, “Hey, I’ve been thinking about this. Why did you choose this?” Like I think most people would be open for that. I would hope. That’s the fun part about teaching.


[0:17:58] CT: Okay, then it’s like, be open as a student. Run as a coach and try to be your best you.


[0:18:06] HT: I think those are great words to live by.


[0:18:08] CT: It’s another, a great way of ending.


[0:18:11] HT: All right, everyone. Have a fantastic rest of your day. We’ll be looking for you next week.




[0:18:19] HT: Thank you so much for joining us today. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. A great cost-free way of supporting us and the podcast would be to give us a five-star rating. You could also look down into the show notes and grab any one of the free resources for teachers. I hope to see you next week on The Pilates exchange. Happy teaching, everyone.



Empty section. Edit page to add content here.