Back in March 2018, I was the trainer at the Boston Feldenkrais® Teacher Training. The program was in its second year and Aliza Stewart, the educational director, asked me to teach the SPIFFER model to the trainees and to help the trainees prepare for their upcoming Awareness Through Movement® teaching practicums.
Exactly two years ago today, 13 March 2018, we woke to weather reports predicting the third nor’easter, a serious regionwide storm caused by low pressure off the East Coast of the US, in two weeks. More specifically, the announcement warned of a blizzard that would bring such heavy snow to the region that roads would be unsafe. Indeed, by the next morning, a record-breaking 14.5 inches (that’s almost 37 centimeters) of snow had fallen.
So that the trainees, who were attending the program from all over North America, wouldn’t have to miss the training, we decided to hold the class online using the Zoom video conferencing service. When you connect to Zoom from your computer, it uses your camera and microphone to connect you to the other folks participating in the meeting. You see a screen filled by 25 rectangles, one showing your video and each one of the others containing the video feed from one of the other participants. When there are more than 25 folks attending, you find the other folks on subsequent pages. The service also offers the option of highlighting one person’s video so that it takes up most of the screen. You can also arrange break-out groups during which small groups meet simultaneously to work with each other or have a discussion. The teacher can even visit each of the groups individually, allowing for more personal contact and conversation. The online chat function also gives you an additional way for students to ask questions, make comments, and interact with each other. What’s more, the proceedings are recorded and available to watch — or listen to — afterward.
Having started to teach online more than a decade ago (way back when audio conferencing availability was considered state-of-the-art!), I felt well prepared. I appreciate what the medium has to offer: the ability to connect with each other no matter where you are or they are. While it may not be the medium for teaching hands-on work, it is a remarkable means for online learning. Because I can see everyone (who has their camera on), it’s easy to track what’s happening in class and interact with the students.
As the AT&T slogan promoting long-distance phone calls, first introduced in 1965, proclaimed, “It’s the next best thing to being there.” That’s because a video conferencing session or group call makes possible so much of what happens when I’m in the same room as the trainees, including giving presentations, conducting Socratic dialogues, having question and answer sessions, doing small group exercises, and teaching ATM® lessons. And that’s exactly what happened when we met online, allowing the training to continue without missing a beat.
With the current Covid-19 pandemic impacting all of our lives, it’s time to think about how we can use Zoom, Skype, and other communication systems that allow us to interact online to provide the support, education, and stress-reduction that we’re going to need in the coming weeks and months.
Just a few minutes ago, I was talking with fellow Feldenkrais teacher and business coach, Allison Rapp, who is also teaching and coaching colleagues around the world. We decided to share our knowledge about how to use the Internet to teach classes with the community by recording a video conversation tomorrow. The plan is to then make the recording available by the beginning of next week, at the latest. I’ll let you know as soon as it’s available.
I’ll be offering two free online AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions about how to teach via the Internet. I’ll start each with a short presentation about some of what I’ve learned and then we’ll jump into a no-holds-barred conversation about the nuts and bolts of teaching online. Please click on the either of the links below to sign up:
Next best thing to being there — Saturday
4:30 PM Pacific time
Next best thing to being there — Sunday
10:00 AM Pacific time
Please register soon as participation is limited. I recommend putting the link you’ll get for the meeting in your calendar so you’ll be ready to go when it’s time for the meeting. If you can’t make it to either meeting, you’ll have a chance to listen to the recording of at least one of the sessions. You can count on me letting you know when the recording is available.
Oh yeah, before I forget, please be on the lookout for MOVING AROUND, a new series of ATMs from a two-week segment of my recently graduated Amsterdam International Feldenkrais Teacher Training. The lessons explore the developmental transition from moving around yourself to starting to move yourself around. It’s coming out next week along with an accompanying online course for Feldenkrais teachers and trainees that will include the recorded audio and video materials of the entire segment, provide a “doing the training without leaving home” experience, and support your learning from and integrating this material.
Because I’ve managed to make it through radiation treatments without losing my voice, I’m also thinking about offering a brand spanking new live ATM series online soon. I won’t say much about it now other than I’ve been working on these lessons for years, that they come from my personal practice and the kinds of homework I give students, and that class will consist of short lessons — thirty or so minutes each — as well as labs designed to take your learning beyond the lesson and into your life. More on that soon.
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