It’s very important that instructors engage in some type of warm-up activity before going into any teaching situation, regardless of whether it is face-to-face or online. Musicians tune up their instruments before a performance, vocalists warm up their vocal chords before singing, dancers and athletes stretch and warm up their muscles before performing and competing, and actors engage in a variety of warm-ups before hitting the stage or screen. We even warm up our cars on a very cold day before driving to our destination. If you want to reduce your anxiety, feel a sense of focus and presence, begin incorporating the following tips into your instructor warm-up plan:
1. Stretch – I begin my morning with a 10-minute stretching routine and it has served me well over the years. Our bodies are our instruments in the classroom. Engaging in some type of stretching exercise or anything physical will aid in your stamina in the classroom.
2. Breathe – We’ve all been told to breathe when we are nervous or anxious. However, that may be difficult to do when your anxiety is high. Before entering the classroom, take a moment to consciously take slow, deep breaths. This will allow you to feel centered and grounded.
3. Vocalize – Our voices are the main instrument in the classroom and require some energizing in the morning. Singing in the shower can be a fun way to warm up your voice. I also find using a few tongue twisters is a helpful technique to open the voice.
4. Use Mental Imagery – It is important to get our minds right! We may awake not feeling our best—we are human and that’s a reality. But, as any performer will say, “The show must go on!” Engaging in mental imagery or creative visualization is a powerful technique to claim how you want your day to go.
Incorporating the above tips in your instructor warm-up practice will certainly have a profound impact on your performance, regardless of what, where, or how you teach. It’s always worked for me! We should never walk into a teaching situation cold—make sure you warm it up!