Every instructor likes to feel as if they make a positive impact on their students. The instructor comes to class early, stays late, is friendly and enthusiastic while energetic, no matter what else is going on in the instructor’s life.
It can be really frustrating to teach students who seem unresponsive, or worse, students who have poor attitudes. You’ve seen these students – they stand in the back and make faces during routines they dislike. They don’t follow the steps and can be a distraction because they are doing their own thing. Maybe they interrupt the class to make unreasonable requests of the instructor.
I generally put up with a lot because I enjoy teaching. But I recently ended my first experience of having a negative class. The class was frustrating and disappointing.
Of course, not every student in the class was negative. There were several students who were friendly, responsive, eager to master the routines and capable of setting their own pace without complaint when they wanted a more intense workout. Ironically, these students made the problem students appear even more annoying. When you know you can reach some people, it makes it even more frustrating that others ignore you.
I have to wonder about what motivates a person to schedule and pay for a class in which they remain aloof. Was it the time the class was held? Was it that their expectations were not met? Were they only seeking a place to work up a sweat instead of a movement experience?
Last month I wrote about techniques for getting motivated to teach an unfulfilling class. Beyond professional satisfaction, typically as long as I am paid reasonably, I’ll take a teaching job because I enjoy the interactions with my students, seeing progression, making new friends – but this class this semester has changed my mind. While an instructor gets paid to teach the class, it is still necessary for the class to be worth the time and effort of the instructor.
In the future, I will not compromise my schedule, time, and effort to teach a class where I feel judged and unwanted. I have decided that teaching a class that you can’t wait to be over and wish you weren’t teaching is not only a negative experience but also one that isn’t obligatory. I am paid a small fraction of what the students are paying for the class, and the compensation just isn’t worth it to go through the aggravation of teaching a class without engaged students.