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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Why I Dislike Zumba (and what it has to do with teaching)

Although the world is full of many Zumba fanatics, I am not one of them. Despite what most people realize, Beto actually released a failed home version of Zumba in 2002. I know. I asked for the videos for a birthday as an alternative to my Tae Bo workouts. (And yes, I still have them AND a VCR.) My review: cheesy, cheesy, cheesy. Not Kraft mac and cheesy. Velveeta mac & cheesy. And every time I pull these old videos out, I cannot help but see Beto as a pervert. 

Since 2002, my love affair with fitness blossomed first with The Firm, then with Beach Body and Chalene Johnson and Shaun T. and Tony Horton. (Take a peek at my Instagram page for verfication.) I love the intensity and the insanity and the sweat and the pain. Unfortunately, as I get older, my body is not willing to keep up with my brain on my desire for constant beast mode. My knees ache (I already had surgery on both when I was 23), my lower back hurts, and I am developing tennis elbow. 

A few weeks ago, I invested in some of the newer Zumba videos because I got offered a really good deal, and I was already looking for something lower impact. The newer workouts are much more intense then the 2002 versions. My abs and hips hurt for days (but that probably stems from my inability to dance more than doing anything correctly). I still find them a bit cheesy, but at least Beto does not seem so pervy to me anymore. 

But I still dislike them. 

Even with the guided workouts (those with actual instructions), I often have no idea what I am supposed to be doing. I stop the DVD. I pause. I rewind. And sometimes I just modify (walk in place) because I cannot figure out what is happening. With one of the workouts, I keep skipping a whole section simply because I have no idea what is going on. The instructors' feet move so fast at times that I am not even sure what I am looking at. Getting through a Zumba workout is like sitting through a class with no clear instruction that moves too quickly and does not leave a great deal of room for questions.

So, being a teacher, I wondered how often my classroom is like this:
  • Even when I model, am I going too quickly?
  • Am I scaffolding enough for my students to pick up on the pieces one part at a time?
  • Am I allowing students an opportunity to review what my expectations are for their success?
  • Do I let them ask enough questions to figure it what they are not understanding?
  • Are they skipping parts of assignments simply because they have no idea what is going on? 
  • Am I expecting them to catch on to things simply because I am good at them?
  • Am I causing physical pain and mental anguish for some kids?

As teachers, I think sometimes we forget what it is like to learn something that causes us frustration. Sure, we do professional development things that bring us new ideas, but they usually involve ideas for which we already have background knowledge. How often do we branch out to learn things that are brand new to us, that cause us frustration? 

I am not willing to give up on Zumba. It has only been a few weeks, and I know with practice, I can and will get better. Do our students have that same mentality, or are they shutting down once that frustration kicks in? What do we need to do to keep them from giving up? What do I need to do?

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