Poletiquette: How Not to Piss Off Your Instructor

When I am in student mode, I am eager–nay, DESPERATE–to have my instructor’s approval.

In my eyes, instructors are goddesses full of infinite knowledge, who can bestow upon me a priceless nugget of information if only I prove myself worthy enough (“You need to rotate your legs INWARD in a thigh hold”<—–WHAT THE FUCK THIS IS GENIUS, THANK YOU SHAINA)

… which is why I get really fucking irritated when I see my fellow students doing Oblivious, Obnoxious Shit that undermines the instructor’s class.

Having been on both the instructor and student sides of the fence, I cringe as people perform random acts of OOS because I know exactly how Oblivious and Obnoxious it is to the person trying to teach your ass something that you don’t seem particularly interested in learning. Oh, you just want to practice that thing you already know on your favorite side again? Okay, sure. Do that. I’ll just wait over here.


Okay, so, from both a teacher’s and a student’s perspective, here’s how to effectively poke the instructor bear, if you really must:

1. Flip upside down every time your teacher’s back is turned

Oy vey. You don’t do this, do you? Listen, it’s great that you can go upside and you’re only a level one, but, chances are, 1. you’re not doing it right (like the girl I witnessed in my last class who inverted into a crucifix with BOTH FEET IN FRONT OF THE POLE WHAT STAHP) and 2. if you bust your ass, you could get your teacher in trouble, because she’s not supposed to let you go upside down without a spot in level 1.

A teacher is not just responsible for teaching you, she’s also in charge of your safety while you’re in her class. If you wait until your instructor’s back is turned to do something dumb, not only are you setting an example of chaos for the rest of the students, you’re endangering yourself AND your instructor’s job/reputation/peace of mind. Poo on you!!!

2. Try that thing you’re supposed to be practicing once … and then switch off to that thing you already know how to do

Again, this is a really demoralizing example to set for the rest of the class. You’re basically showing everyone that you think your instructor’s lesson plan is optional, and/or that you’re too good for what you’re learning.

But real talk: is a new move too easy for you? Practice fun ways to get in or out of the move, or make up a variation (one handed, extended leg, to the floor vs. to your feet), add some floor work, build a combo, etc. And of course, work on your bad side! This should definitely keep you busy until the next part of the lesson. Is a move too hard? Talk to your teacher! He or she can help you pinpoint the problem or give you a variation–and I promise you, they’ll be happy to do it. Much happier than if they catch you blatantly doing something they didn’t teach you during your practice time.

3. Whine/give up/catch an attitude

This one… we’re all guilty of. And instructors understand, because we know the feeling. Sometimes you just hit a wall and that is SO frustrating. But, if you go to that dark place where you just don’t want to try anymore, we can’t help you. And that’s class money and instructor time wasted–for YOU. Which, from a teacher perspective, we feel really bad about. Help us help YOU.

Of course, step one to not being a pain in the ass is to try talking to your teacher. He or she can help you figure out what the problem is. Better yet, before just blurting out “I can’t,” try clarifying for yourself where the sticky spot. Is it the aerial invert part of the combo that’s too tough? Is your hand is getting stuck behind your knee on the outside leg hold? The more specific the issue, the better you equip your instructor to give you helpful feedback, or to modify the move so you can do it. Remember, just because you didn’t nail a move in a single class doesn’t mean you haven’t made a gain. And your instructor will be SO happy to keep helping you if you just keep putting in the effort.

So that’s the end of my rant. Teachers, anything your students do that drives you up the wall? Students, anything you wish teachers would do better? Pobody’s nerfect…

HT 🙂


  1. I am generally pretty good about following these…. unless I have an upcoming performance. Then I just practice my combos over and over and over and pretty much ignore anything new. I can’t exactly rent out the studio to practice, so sometimes class is the only chance I get. Luckily, I don’t perform often, so I can learn more in my classes!

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