Off the Mat Assessment Prompts & How to Use Them
Further Exploration of What Off the Mat is…
The tools offered in Off the Mat are designed to be integrated into the “conversation” part of your initial session and used as re-assessment tools for all subsequent sessions.
We’ve made some recommendations about how to add these into your sequences, however, you can put them in whenever and wherever you’d like depending on your particular style of teaching. And you can draw on them at any appropriate moment in your teaching no matter where they end up in your sequence.
Promoting a positive framework, environment, and leaning experience:
Our ultimate vision for Off the Mat is that it encourages teachers to develop themselves as more than technicians, and helps them build thoughtful teaching skills that will more successfully support their students from the whole-person perspective.
The goal of using Off the Mat Assessment Prompts is that we’re working toward creating a POSITIVE learning environment where the body and the brain can be at ease and therefore more open to learning and exploration. To do that we need to consistently ask questions and gather information about what’s most relevant to our STUDENTS — what deeply motivates them — so that we can tap into their positive emotional connections to movement, their body, body image, and past successes.
Further Exploration of What Off the Mat is NOT…
It’s important that you understand what Off the Mat is NOT and how to use these tools successfully within your scope of practice.
Assuming you aren’t a talk therapist and your students aren’t coming to you for psychological evaluation, your scope of practice is movement training and educating. In our opinion coaching and motivating, guiding and supporting your students in their movement development IS within the teacher’s scope of practice and deeply imperative to helping students make lasting changes in their body.
What we DO NOT encourage you to do:
- Diagnose or analyze your students’ mental health
- Ask inappropriate or overly personal questions
- Offer mental, emotional, or psychological advice (Caveat: if you think your student is having mental illness challenges it IS appropriate to encourage them to seek evaluation).
- Enter into a talk therapy relationship or allow sessions to digress into talk therapy (Unless you are a therapist.)
We know that the line can sometimes become blurred when we embark on knowing our students in this way, which is why we want to make sure you are clear on how to use these tools and stay within your scope of practice.
We will be providing a plethora of examples of questions to ask and what NOT to ask. Stay tuned for those and more educational material on this subject.
How to use the Off the Mat Assessment Prompts:
Sometimes it works best to utilize the Assessment Prompts beforehand. Sometimes in the middle. And sometimes our students will have greater awareness and insight after they’ve been moving for a while, so using the Assessment Prompts at the end will make more sense.
Ultimately, it comes down to your particular teaching style, the level of coaching you’re comfortable with, and the person in front of you and what they need.
- Stay within your scope and comfort zone.
- Don’t ask your students to reveal deeply personal aspects of themselves. Keep your questions casual, professional, and straight forward.
- Be curious. Promote curiosity within yours student regarding their past movement experiences and relationship to their body.
- Never project your own opinion on your student. Let them come to their own conclusions even if they’re not in alignment with what you think/believe.
- Choose no more than 2 for each session:
- We recommend you choose one that is historically relevant to the student and one that reflects the student’s current state of mind.
- Place at the beginning of your session sequence AND
- Place at the end of your session sequence*
- Always KEEP IT SIMPLE.
- TIPS for KEEPING IT SIMPLE
- Be direct and clear.
- Express genuine and appropriate empathy.
- Be thoughtful to NOT project your personal judgements or expectations on the student.
- Acknowledge success or progress (discrepancy → how far they’ve come) in this area and then ask the student’s own observations.
- Be explicit as to why this awareness is important to their success. (Use relevant and personal examples).
- TIPS for KEEPING IT SIMPLE
*Our recommendation to place the prompts at the beginning and end of each session is so we’re reminded to check-in with our students and establish discrepancy — the distance between point A and B (how they felt when they started verses when they finished). Discrepancy is one of the key indicators of internal drive and motivation and it’s important that we regularly offer “proof” of progress. We do this with physical progress already. These tools give us an opportunity to tap into another side of our students’ success.*
Note: These tools are particularly useful for NEW teachers as they begin to develop their sense of being more than just an instructor, but also a coach, educator, and guide.