Whether you are in the midst of Pilates Teacher Training or you're taking a weekend workshop for continuing education credits, we are constantly learning in the Pilates teachers. If you're wondering what the most effective strategies for learning new information, this episode is for you! We dive into the two proven strategies of distributed practice and self-testing and see how they can improve our knowledge retention. Tune in!
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[00:00:00] Welcome to Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. I'm Olivia and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and the Pilates community on Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. Today's chapter starts now.
[00:00:56] Hello. Hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. [00:01:00] I'm really excited for today's episode because I had a awesome coffee chat with a Buy Me a Coffee member last month, and it really inspired me to do a more in-depth episode about this topic. And that topic is studying tips for Pilates teachers. Now the Buy Me a Coffee member is in the midst of embarking on her Pilates teacher training journey. And we know that Pilates teacher training is absolutely bursting with information, and it makes sense that you would want to have tips to make the most out of the time that you have in teacher training to really absorb as much information as quickly as possible, as effectively as possible, and really convert that information into long-term memory, not just cramming for your test out.
[00:01:51] But you know, the stuff that we learn in teacher training, we will use over and over and over again throughout our entire teaching career. So we really want to [00:02:00] know that material and not just memorize and forget that material. So these tips are definitely for you if you are in your teacher training at the moment.
[00:02:12] But we also know that teacher training is not the only time that we're learning things. We're learning stuff all the time as Pilates teachers, both in formal means, you're attending workshops or maybe you're doing continuing education hours every couple years if you're a nationally certified Pilates teacher.
[00:02:31] But we also know that that is happening informally. Maybe a workshop happens at the studio. It's not for credit, but you know, there's things that happened in that workshop that you wanna know and you want to use for later, or maybe you intend a conference or you attend a, you know, meeting of the minds. Something, a Pilates on tour, PMA conference, something where there's tons of workshops, whether or not you're taking them for credit. And there's just so much [00:03:00] information. How do we really study? How do we break down that information so that it's useful to us? So I'm gonna be talking about my study tips.
[00:03:09] Also, the most effective ways to study as shown in research. This has been very well researched, for reasons that are obvious. Of course, we wanna know how to study better, how to learn better. And this episode is all about that.
[00:03:21] Certain studying techniques have been proven to be more effective than other studying techniques. This is true. I've linked to a study that is kind of the study. It came out in 2013, but it's only been reinforced by further research. It hasn't been refuted in any way, so I don't know how you studied, maybe in high school, maybe in your teacher training, but I did a lot of taking extensive notes, highlighting textbooks, making flashcards and then reading my notes or like rewatching lectures over and over again. [00:04:00] And unfortunately, at least the, uh, rereading your notes and highlighting bit are not the most effective ways to study.
[00:04:08] The best ways to study are distributed practice and self-testing. So if you're a note card user ,note cards are still on the table as a great way to study. So distributed practice means that you are distributing your practice over the longer course of time. So instead of attending a three hour workshop all at once, distributed practice would be attending one hour workshops three times.
[00:04:43] Now if you're like, well, that sounds great, but absolutely not feasible. Because one of the reasons we go to workshops, or we go to conferences is we want a lot of information in a short time. If you're commuting or you're driving, or if you're flying out to a conference, you can't fly out every weekend. I mean, maybe you can [00:05:00] ,good on you, but it makes more sense to do it all at once. And from a convenience and actual realistic perspective, that's how it goes.
[00:05:10] But we know for our learning that distributing it actually gives our brain a little bit of time to digest it and to work through it, and to actually process the information. Versus kind of what I get when I'm at those workshops, and I love workshops and I love conferences, you've heard me talk about how much I adore them, but I get information overload, and there's a point where my brain just turns to mush and I just can't take in any more information.
[00:05:34] The good news is we can do distributed practice even after we do a really intense workshop that was three hours or six hours or a million hours, right? We can then go back and. Review our material that we've covered in that distributed way. So instead of sitting down and studying for three hours straight, we could do 15 minutes at a time, or we could do [00:06:00] 30 minutes a day, something like that, but do it more frequently so that our brain is able to kind of build those connections and we can recall that information a bit smoother.
[00:06:10] So that's distributed practice. We want to distribute it. We wanna do a little bit over time instead of cram a ton the night before an exam.
[00:06:20] And that's a really good way if you're building up to your test out in Pilates teacher training that you wanna review a little bit at a time and not really have those marathon study sessions if you can help it, just because our brain doesn't really work that way at its best.
[00:06:36] If you're wondering, well, how do I know what to study? You told me I shouldn't just reread my notes or I shouldn't just re-watch the lecture, like redo modules. So what should I be studying?
[00:06:47] That's the second super effective way to learn, and that's something called self-testing. So self-testing means that you quiz yourself on the information that you're covering to see if you know it. You [00:07:00] might see this in really awesome presenters where they have little quiz questions in the middle of their presentation that asks you to recall information that you just learned. Um, because self-testing is the way to know if you know it.
[00:07:17] And I know testing itself has kind of a bad rap, especially in the United States. We had this thing called No Child Left Behind and then there was all this standardized testing all the time and it gave a lot of people, myself included, testing anxiety and any, anytime you hear the word test, you tense up and have like pretty much P T S D flashbacks. So that's not what we're talking about here.
[00:07:38] The actual purpose of testing and assessment, as I can share as someone, uh, with an education background as well, is that it's to know what you know. And it's really for teachers and we're Pilates teachers, we're also learning a lot of this information we're teaching ourselves as we're preparing to be Pilates teachers, it's to really see where the gaps in your [00:08:00] understanding are. It's not to give you a failing grade and make you feel terrible about yourself, but to really see what do I get out of this? What do I not quite get, or what am I still confused about?
[00:08:11] So it's a very high level of understanding to be able to summarize information to, I don't wanna say regurgitate, that's not the right word. Um. To deliver that information in your own words is a really high level of understanding. So if you're studying some contraindications piece and you just ask yourself, you know, what are the contraindications of this condition? And you know, what exercises do I wanna avoid in this position? Or what exercises do I wanna do in this position? And you find that you can name them all really well. Amazing. You don't need to keep studying that if you know it.
[00:08:52] So I think this is where I went awry and my studying journey is that I have this mountain of flashcards and, and every day I would [00:09:00] just go through the whole mountain of flashcards. And flashcards are a way of self-testing. You know, you've got a word or you've got a question and then you've gotta answer it. So that is a way to self-test. That's awesome. But. If you go through a hundred flashcards and there's 50 of them that you know like the back of your hand, you don't need to keep reviewing those same note cards over and over again. You already know that.
[00:09:22] You can spend more time on maybe the 25 or maybe 30 note cards that you knew and this hypothetical example that you knew kind of like you were on the right track, but it wasn't perfect, and then maybe there were a handful that you just didn't know and you absolutely spaced like that's where we wanna spend our time because time is valuable. Time is money. We wanna use our time wisely, so spend your time working through the things that you don't know and reviewing those topics more frequently.
[00:09:51] And then those ones that you know really well, maybe you're reviewing them once a week or every couple weeks because you already know that. It's like when you're practicing [00:10:00] talking through the exercises and you're trying to get more comfortable cuing exercises. My guess is you're pretty good at queuing footwork, so you don't need to keep practicing queuing footwork. You can practice cuing more complicated exercises, like make sure that you've got your back rowing cues, uh, down pat, or you can really walk someone through how to do something like boomerang on the mat that's just really complicated and has a lot of steps and a lot of stuff going on.
[00:10:25] We can, we know how to cue footwork. We know how to cue maybe the rollup is an exercise. You teach a lot, a lot, a lot. You know it like the back of your hand, or the hundreds, something like that. Definitely review it. Don't throw it by the wayside forever, but don't spend a hundred percent of your effort doing the things that you're already good at. Let's work on filling the gaps instead.
[00:10:48] Coming up after the break, I'm gonna look at how this applies to Pilates teacher training specifically, and also how this can apply to those workshops and those conferences that you may have attended [00:11:00] that had so much information, um, but you didn't quite understand it, or even in my case, hear it entirely as it was happening because it was just so much all at once. That's coming up next.
[00:11:19] Hi there. I hope you're enjoying today's chapter so far. There's great stuff coming up after the break too. Be sure to subscribe wherever you're listening and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. There, you can make a one-time donation or become a member for as little as $5 a month.
[00:11:38] Membership comes with some awesome perks, including a shoutout in the next episode, a monthly newsletter, a monthly zoom call with me and more. You can also visit links.OliviaBioni.com/affiliates to check out some sweet deals on products I use and love. Now back to the [00:12:00] show
[00:12:15] in Pilates teacher training, one of the very popular ways to organize a training for convenience factors, and especially if you are doing your teacher training while you are also having another career or you're working a nine to five, or you have another part-time job. Like one of the ways that Pilates teacher trainings are often organized is that they have these weekend intensives and teacher training is often done as modules.
[00:12:41] You do a Mat one module and then an advanced mat module, and you do reformer one and chair, and everything happens in kind of discrete units. And you will go into the studio for a weekend. It could be eight hours a day, it could be 10 hours a day. That's what my teacher training was [00:13:00] organized as. And you do those weekend intensives maybe once a month or one every couple months, and you then you're kind of left to your own devices for the time in between.
[00:13:10] Again, for convenience factor, I get it. That makes sense. Uh, from a learning perspective, 16 to 20 hours of information being injected into your brain in two days is so much more than your brain can possibly handle. Like, that is just a lot of information. So how can you in teacher training, use the self-testing and distributed practice that we know works that helps us retain information better? And really make connections using that information in ways that are useful and not just, you know, I've memorized this, but like I really know this. How can we do that?
[00:13:50] One thing, as I briefly suggested in that first part is to. Make your studying distributed. The information [00:14:00] download was not distributed. It was all at once, but you can review your material in a distributed way, so however that module was organized, whether you were covering choreography or you were covering theory, or you were covering anatomy, take pieces of it and make that the topic of your study.
[00:14:19] Don't try to review the whole thing at the same time. Take it apart piece by piece, and do a little bit at a time, either every day, every couple days, whenever you can. Distributing that practice, even though you didn't distribute the dissemination- that happened all at once- is still gonna help you absorb that information.
[00:14:42] And an important part of the distributed practice is the fact that you're sleeping in between your study sessions. I don't mean like study, take a nap, study, although if you need a nap, take a nap. I mean, because it's happening over multiple days, our brain is actually converting that information into long-term memory [00:15:00] as we sleep. So when you're studying a lot, make sure you're sleeping a lot as well, which I don't think anyone needs to be asked twice to sleep more. Um, sleeping is fantastic for learning, so make sure that you're getting your sleep while you're studying.
[00:15:16] Self-testing is gonna help guide you into what goes into your review pile every time you're reviewing information. So ask yourself questions. Ask yourself the question that the person who's doing your test out would ask you. You know, they're gonna ask you, you know what springs for this? They're gonna ask you, oh, my wrist is bothering me. What can I do instead? Like, you can begin to put yourself in the shoes of the person who's testing you and ask questions. When you know the answer to that question, amazing. That goes in the, I know this, thumbs up, column.
[00:15:54] And when you don't know the answer to the question, you don't need to feel bad about not knowing it. That just goes on your, I [00:16:00] need to review this and the next time I do studying, I really wanna review muscles in the shoulder, or something.
[00:16:06] My recommendations are the same if you're attending a conference or a weekend workshop. Um, that isn't necessarily teacher training related. Could be continuing education, could just be something that you're interested in. And I know sometimes I would go to workshops and I'd be like, oh my gosh, that's great. And then I never implement any of it because I never really digested it. So you can do that same distributed practice and review your notes.
[00:16:31] Ask yourself questions about the material. If you are friends with other teachers, or if your partners aren't tired or your friends aren't tired about you, just going off on Pilates tangents all the time, if you can explain the material in your own words. That's another way to self-test and really see that you know it.
[00:16:50] So I think sometimes we attend workshops and then we're done with them. We print out our certificate and like that's it. Like we can stay fresh with the material. It's [00:17:00] aspirational. I don't do it all the time either, but I do think it's something we can do to distribute our learning and then really make that part of our teaching fabric instead of just this thing that we did and we've forgotten about.
[00:17:12] I do have a couple teacher training tips as well that are things that both when I was working inside a teacher training program as a trainer, going through a teacher training program and then also mentoring people who are in the middle of teacher training programs. This is the advice that I always give them, and that is start teaching as soon as you learn the first exercise.
[00:17:37] And if you're anything like me, you're like, oh my gosh, there's no way I'm not a good teacher. I only learned the hundred. Like how can I just teach? And the answer is, that's literally like, just teach. Rip off that bandaid. You think you're not gonna be good. It's probably not gonna be the best teaching you ever do, but it doesn't matter if you start teaching that [00:18:00] first exercise or if you wait till the end of teacher training, which I do not recommend, and then start teaching.
[00:18:05] Like, that's not it. You're gonna still stumble over your words. You're gonna be nervous, you're gonna mix things up, you're gonna blank and forget what you were gonna say. But that happens when you start teaching, regardless of how many exercises you learned, regardless of how many modules you've worked through. So the sooner you start teaching, the sooner you work through that stumbling awkwardness. Like that's how you become a better teacher, is just through teaching.
[00:18:32] There was a study that was done. Oh gosh, I don't have that off the top of my head. I'll look for it and see if I can put it in the show notes. But they took these high school students or college students, I shouldn't say how old they were, I don't know, but it was a ceramics class and they divided the class in two groups. One group, they said this whole term, you're gonna make one pot, and this one pot accounts for your entire grade. So this has to be the best pot ever because that's what your grade's based on.
[00:18:59] [00:19:00] The other group, they said you have to make a hundred pots this term and they may have only been meeting like 20 times. So like every time you come to class, you have to make at least five pots because each pot is worth one point.
[00:19:12] And what they saw in those two groups at the end of the term, is the people who made one pot and worked very hard making that one pot. Their pots weren't as good as the people who made a hundred pots because in the process of making tons and tons and tons of pots as fast as they can, in some cases, they refined their techniques and their pots towards the end of the a hundred pots were better than the people who spent the whole term working on that single pot.
[00:19:42] So teaching is exactly the same. You get better through the process of teaching a hundred classes than if you just prepared to teach one class. Let go of the idea that it needs to be perfect because perfection is not a thing. It's actually not attainable. [00:20:00] It's a process of improving and it only happens through trying and trial and error.
[00:20:06] As Pilates teachers, we are lifelong learners, and I really hope that you can take those ideas of distributed practice and self-testing with you. If you're in your teacher training and it seems overwhelming, I've been there, we've all been there, and I think there's something really beautiful that the teacher that you look up to, that you think is absolutely phenomenal and can do no wrong, that they have been in your shoes. They have forgotten what they thought they were gonna teach. They didn't have the equipment set up the way they needed. Um, people are doing weird things and they're kind of frantic, like we've all been in that spot. And the art of teaching is that we keep going and we, we were there and we're not there anymore. So I pinky promise you there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
[00:20:55] So huge thank you, uh, to that, Buy Me A Coffee member for having that chat with me because [00:21:00] you really inspired me. And I also wanna say thank you to our newest Buy Me A Coffee supporters. Kelly and Mahomed, thank you so much for joining the project. I know you've been waiting for that shout out for a long time. Um, but I had episodes, uh, planned out before I went on vacation.
[00:21:14] Um, London was awesome. I did go to a Pilates class. That was fantastic. It's at a studio called Kore Gallery, which I loved. They have a couple locations. I went to the Aldgate studio. When I was looking for studios in London that I could take a class, I was really drawn to Core Gallery because they're LGBTQIA+ positive. They are such a welcoming space, such a cool space. I think I'll post some pictures of their studio at Aldgate because they had this like Banksy art on the wall and like neon light vibes and the class was just so fun, so accessible, um, and just reminded me what I know, but don't always think about and that's that there are awesome Pilates teachers all over the world, yourself included, who are just lighting up the [00:22:00] lives of their students and making the world a healthier and better place. So, uh, absolutely loved visiting Kore Gallery. Check 'em out if you're in Aldgate. Um, it was a fun time. I hope you have a great couple weeks and I'll talk to you again soon.
[00:22:21] Thanks for listening to this week's chapter of Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. Check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual and be sure to subscribe wherever you listen. For more Pilates goodness, check out my other podcast, Pilates Students' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts. The adventure continues. Until next time.