For Instructors

So, you think you're reading your students?

Sitting up there on my Spinner® in front, facing the students as they take my class, I tend to think I?m doing a good job of ?reading? them. I watch them closely for signs that point to unsafe riding, ineffective training, risks, focus, and finally accomplishment. I try to identify areas that beg attention and likewise encouragement or praise. I try to keep my finger on the pulse of the class (well, not literally of course, that?s what the heart rate monitors are for!) and make changes in my planned profile if necessary. But man can I blow it, sometimes. Take today, for example. There?s a young woman who comes to my class about once a week. She struggles with the class and masks her intentions as well as reactions to the work and the music by looking down and responding slowly if at all to any general corrections. Time for true confessions here. To be honest (and to my shame), I read her reactions as rejecting and uncooperative. She insists on the wrong hand position, persists in dropping her head to look down, and rarely varies her cadence or reaches down to touch the resistance knob. I have wondered if she has too much resistance in use because she pedals so slowly. I have reached out to her by being friendly before and after class, have rechecked her bike fit and have politely and privately made encouraging comments to her. I always get the feeling that I just wasn?t connecting with her. How wrong could I be?! Today I subbed for a class and she set up her bike front and center. The class had not yet begun and I was checking in with everyone when she literally blurted out the following: ?My son is 5. He just learned to ride without his training wheels. I rode with him! I could never have done this before. It?s all because of Spinning®!? Well, knock me over and shame on me. It turns out that this young woman is basically shy. She seems to have low self-confidence and is struggling with her fitness. I believe she?s a single mom and this moment was extremely meaningful to her. It turns out that she had spent the day on a lovely bike path along with her parents ? all had rented bikes for the afternoon. She continued to participate in the class as she always does but this time I saw something new in her. I saw the happiness and hope that her experience had brought to her. That she tagged it to her Spinning® classes is simply an added bonus. She gave me a gift, a reminder, that things are not always as they appear. I will continue to be attentive to my students and will continue to try to recognize that which I need to know. However, I will remind myself NOT to assume that I have ?read? someone correctly. I will not become careless or critical ? or, at least, I will try not to. Wow, we are so fortunate. Here we think we are teaching others when, in fact, they are teaching us! Blog posted by Linda Freeman for www.spinning.com 6/7/2011.
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