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Creating a Positive Studio Environment

New Article with Bad Kitty USA.

If you visit different pole studios around the world, it’s apparent that different combinations are taught in those studios, diverse teaching methods are employed and there is a distinctive vibe in each studio. From a business perspective, this is all well and good, but the real art behind a pole studio is having a positive classroom environment and fulfilling classes where students not only learn pole but feel like they are a part of something greater.

So what comprises a positive environment? Though you could argue various elements, from a psychology perspective on learning, it comes down to these three things: how welcome a student feels, how much education happens and how that education is supported. Let’s look at three common factors that affect students and a positive environment: the learning space, social support and classroom standards.

For many students, accomplishing pole moves and choreography is life affirming and gives an extra level of meaning in day-to-day activities. Frequently students walk into the pole studio and are fighting inner battles: problems with partners, children, work or even long-standing battles with self-esteem, depression or trauma. Pole class is time of the day where students choose to do something affirmative. Students get to focus on the positivity of self-challenge and growth. The instructor plays a crucial role in the studio as a learning space. The instructor generates the environment of positive learning by encouraging learning behaviors and positive support from everyone in the class.

Three things to look for:

· The studio space is welcoming from the front desk to the studio to the classes.

· A positive, encouraging instructor who is 100-percent there for the students. She is not there for her own workout.

· Students are welcomed and introduced into the fold. The instructor or manager takes time to ask the student about his or her experience, working level and overall goals with the class.

The instructor is the promotor of growth and the encourager who fights the battles with the students on reaching new pole goals. However, the fellow students generate social support and are an important slice of a positive studio environment. An atmosphere of inspiration, camaraderie and support are prioritized in every class. Long-time students welcome new students into a class. At the very best studios, students will talk with new students before class and appreciate having new bodies in class. Fellow students are supportive when another student obtains a move, but also when that student is struggling in class. The studio owner, manager and instructors have a hand is creating this positive social environment.

Ways to create social support

· Remove judgement and self-criticism from students, instructors and managers. Students will model instructors and other students. Instructors can encourage positive behaviors amongst students and discourage judgmental behaviors. Though the real issue can live within students, some of us hold harsh judgement on ourselves when we don’t get a move or mess up choreography. Stopping this negative thought cycle and realizing we are all imperfect can help. Pole is a vigorous journey and some days are easier than others.

· Preventing cliques and overly competitive behaviors stops standoffish ambiance in the studio.

· Listen to student’s ideas and perceptions, this builds a deeper sense of community and assists the studio space in staying open to fresh ideas. Students want to feel authentic, they want to be themselves and be accepted. Let students share and express themselves in the group.

Holding high classroom standards is the last piece in the equation for a positive social environment. The studio is a place for learning that promotes improvement. On a psychological level, if we improve our attitude about what we can accomplish in the pole studio, we might also be able to accomplish more in the world outside the studio door. A good studio sets touchstones of learning that promote development of students. Students should be excited to come to learn and connect with a strong and assertive part of themselves. The part that can work toward a butterfly, support a friend when she is struggling and knows what confidence feels like.

Classroom standards

· Encourage students to ask questions, ask for spots and request assistance. This creates an open environment where it’s okay to not know the answers.

· All types of students are accepted. All levels are accommodated with the proper progression of moves and modifications.

· The studio teaches with a foundation. Students learn basic moves while building strength. This is done with injury prevention and safety in mind.

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