Knowing how to communicate effectively when using verbal cues can turn an average teacher into an extraordinary one. Now that the pandemic mandates that we keep a safe distance from students and limit our tactile cueing, developing an arsenal of clear and concise verbal cues is more important than ever. First, let’s discuss verbal cues and how to prevent them from becoming nothing more than repetitive, ineffectual sound bites. As a teacher, it’s only natural to become a bit complacent with our verbal cues. The underlying problem is that we’re caught unaware by the common pitfalls and neglect to correct ourselves. Here are a few examples that are sure to bring awareness to your cueing:
- Try not to use cues such as “inhale and exhale” to set a pace or to simply fill dead space. Rather, apply them to specific or direct purposes.
- Avoid a constant barking out of cues such as “engage your abs” without specifying the degree and/or specific type of engagement.
- Don’t call out cues like “lift your pelvic floor or squeeze your butt” just to make sure you’ve covered all your bases.
- Use your pitch to teach, and limit verbal cues delivered in a monotone. Tone and inflection are powerful tools. Use them to keep your students listening to your every word.
- Pace yourself. When your cues are spit out too fast, they can be misunderstood or fall on deaf ears.
- If your voice is too loud and commanding, your students may choose to tune you out. It’s as simple as lightly whispering one cue, then raising your voice with excitement or seriousness on the next. Play around with your tone to constantly keep your students engaged.
- Be specific. Generally cueing muscle activation without specifying the side of the body—or the specific part of the muscle or muscle group to engage—will leave your students frustrated that they can’t follow your lead.
- Take time to layer your cues properly. Don’t overcue. For example, start with breathing cues on the first few exercises, then move onto abdominal cues with the next. When you’ve layered two cues, you’re ready to add direct and specific muscle cues into the mix.