Can I tell you a secret? Asking questions is a teaching superpower. And yes, there are some pros that believe that if you are asking questions, then it must mean you don’t know what you are doing. I would counter that when a teacher asks questions, they do so with a desire to gather information that supports their process. Questions help us dig deeper, check in with what we think we know, connect with others – like our clients – and integrate new information into the present moment. The key to this is to ask questions that offer helpful answers.
If you are someone who wants to employ more curiosity in their teaching practice but is unsure of how to start, this week’s post is for you! I’m giving you five effective strategies for working with your clients through the theme of curiosity about their movement practice!
1. Model interest in your client’s movements without the expectation that you are trying to “fix” them.
Through paying attention to how your client moves with authentic interest, rather than a critical eye, you invite a level of encouragement from which you can both become curious about what comes next. Sentiments like “Your legs are really navigating through this challenge with strength!” or “It seems like your spine is really excited to move today!’ can invite some empowerment to the session and help your client become excited about what else they might accomplish that day.
2. Follow your client’s lead.
It is not submissive to allow your client to tell you what they think might come next. In fact, passing the baton and saying “what do you think comes next for your body in this sequence?” can snap your client into the present moment and help them take the perspective that will lead them to make the next right choice for their body. Letting them choose can also give you some insight as to their preferences and how you might better design your sessions to both challenge them and meet them in a personalized way.
3. Answer questions simply and clearly and according to your client’s movement vocabulary
Questions are not an opportunity for you to share your teacher training manuals, but rather, to meet your client where they are in their own understanding of their body movement. Using generalized body terms rather than anatomy, referencing something they’ve done in their practice thus far, rather than the “ideal” of Pilates and relating their question to a task that they do daily can all be effective ways from which to cultivate curiosity.
4. And, if you don’t have the answer, say so.
It’s so wonderful to admit that you are a human who doesn’t know everything! How refreshing! Often, in moments of curiosity, you are presented with an opportunity to collaborate with your client and discover an answer together. Looping them into the teaching process actually makes your sessions MORE valuable because they are practicing techniques that they can use to strategize later on by themselves.
5. Stimulate your client with open-ended questions.
Rather than “How do you feel today?” or “Is your body feeling good?” Ask questions like: “Tell me one word that describes how you want to leave feeling after our session.” Allow them to formulate language that pulls them into a mindset of curiosity for the possibilities or at the very least, offers you more information than a simple “fine, yes or no.”
And there you have it! I’m interested to hear how some of these strategies work for you in your practice. Be sure to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember that curiosity is a gateway to learning. Keep the process easy and it will serve you well!