ACAT’s Teacher Certification Program: Teaching Group Classes

Hands on shoulders - Sara_smallerby Brooke Lieb As part of our training course, our teachers-in-training design a multi-session group class syllabus, and present one of the classes to their class mates. I am always impressed by how creative and articulate our teachers-in-training are at teaching the concepts and principles of the work through guided explorations, partner activities and demonstration. One aspect of group class teaching is finding ways to practically apply Alexander principles to the task of daily living. Our teachers-in-training are always interested in the new teaching strategies to help a student make use of what they are learning in lessons and classes in real life.

This past week in the training class (March 2015) I had the students work together in small groups to come up with ways to practically apply Alexander means-whereby to a simple activity. I suggested that they consider how to include the primary directions to organize the head/neck/back relationship while also addressing the specifics of the activity. We don’t need to teach the activity per se, we need to teach how to do it with better use by applying Alexander’s method.

The activities they chose were: crossing one leg over the other while seated (many of us realized after we were guided to direct ourselves and reorganize before we crossed a leg, we didn’t want to cross our legs anymore because we were so poised just sitting!); looking at email on our cell phones; and taking a drink from a cup.

One of the take-aways from the experience is that this approach to working with activities allows the whole group to participate simultaneously. Since it’s not possible to have hands on more than one student at a time, this is a useful method to keep the whole group engaged. Repetition of the activity and the verbal guidance allows the class participants to become familiar with the instructions to give themselves when they are on their own.

This was how Judith Leibowitz used to teach in her classes at Juilliard and on the Teacher Training Course at ACAT. She included many of the activities she taught as “The Leibowitz Procedures” in her book “The Alexander Technique” co-written with Bill Connington. Judy would take us all through the activity together, while she put hands on one student, and she would go from student to student as we all used the mirror to take ourselves through the activity.

Note: ACAT Teaching Members can log on the the member area here at www.acatnyc.org and view video of the ACAT Faculty reviewing some of Judy’s procedures on the “Members” page.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Brooke1web.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]N. BROOKE LIEB, Director of Teacher Certification since 2008, received her certification from ACAT in 1989, joined the faculty in 1992. Brooke has presented to 100s of people at numerous conferences, has taught at C. W. Post College, St. Rose College, Kutztown University, Pace University, The Actors Institute, The National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Dennison University, and Wagner College; and has made presentations for the Hospital for Special Surgery, the Scoliosis Foundation, and the Arthritis Foundation; Mercy College and Touro College, Departments of Physical Therapy; and Northern Westchester Hospital. Brooke maintains a teaching practice in NYC, specializing in working with people dealing with pain, back injuries and scoliosis; and performing artists. www.brookelieb.com[/author_info] [/author]

"Dare to be Wrong" by Judith Leibowitz Now Available on Kindle

wrongby Brooke Lieb ACAT is pleased to announce "Dare To Be Wrong: The Teaching of Judith Leibowitz" which was edited by ACAT Alumna Kathryn Miranda, is now available for purchase as an ebook for the Kindle through Amazon.

Some members of the ACAT Community shared their response to the book, and for those who studied with Judy, some memories of working with Judy, as well.

"I love Judy's book. It's one of the clearest books on how to teach and learn the Technique. The process she describes is simple but powerfully effective. She begins with awareness, defines inhibition, and clearly delineates the job of both teacher and student while masterfully teaching the purpose, function and meaning of the directions. All of this is brilliantly set on a foundation that gives the student permission to explore and dare to be wrong in order to discover a new way of using herself. "

Lolita Brinkley, ACAT '14

"When I read 'Dare to Be Wrong', her words were so vivid I felt I was in the room with Judy again. I was reminded of how clear and simple her use of language was, while the effect of her hands-on work was expansive and allowed me to understand the potential of inhibition and direction - and my potential as a being - at a quantum level to what I could ever understand all on my own.

I credit Judy with my constant curiosity and awareness of how the 'whole person' is under my hands. Judy always cultivated the direction and understanding that was there in me, and through this indirect approach, some of the ways I may have been interfering with my own poise on every level gently rose to my awareness so I could know myself and see my potential. At the same time, I never felt judged or that there was any 'wrong' way of exploring this work.

Judy's excitement and curiosity within the work was infectious, and the longer I teach, the more I understand and the less I am attached to what I know. Instead, I am interested in the as yet unexplored potential. I now know how teaching this work has allowed me to progress beyond where I would had I remained as a student. It is a great paradox that we get some much more for ourselves when we embark on the process of being a teacher.

This book is a chance for be with Judy."

Brooke Lieb, ACAT '89

"I remember Judy's hands on me as if it was yesterday. She had an unusual, perhaps unique, ability to intuit my state of mind, and then to create a lesson addressing my USE in 30 minutes ... lessons that stay with me until today.

Judy clarified my understanding of 'legs away' and 'monkey/bending' by transmitting a combination of kinesthetic and intellectual experience in weekly lessons during her last year teaching. Every lesson ended with her laughing and excited by our discoveries. She never took the AT for granted and reveled in the brilliance of the work.

Part of my clarity in developing a lesson was learned during my training as I watched her work with my colleagues at the end of every training class. Each of had a lesson while all 8 of us observed. She was a master of problem solving in the moment ...seamlessly integrating the hands on work with the Alexander concepts. Her teaching was both artful and specific, full of anatomical allusions and metaphors that clarified."

Judith Stern, ACAT '87

"Judy’s hands were very quick. They moved quickly from one part of a student’s body to another. Her thinking and perceiving was lightning fast and it kept me very present to keep up with her. Also, each finger gave an individual message. Judy sculpted in a variety of mediums – stone, wood, bronze, and it was as if each finger had its own brain as she sculpted me, and my energy, in the lesson. Judy thought in terms of energy. She was also very positive and encouraging. I believe she gave only half hour lessons, which was all she needed to tune up and expand one. If she felt the lesson was finished in 20 minutes, she would end it then.

Judy loved movement. I think she got tired or bored of just doing chair and table work, so she would work with large movement. She would get us going from bent knees to jumping again and again, and work with swinging the whole body around one standing leg which she called going into arabesque. I remember her swinging me forward and back with her hands in the arabesque in her teaching studio. Perhaps I had my hand on the table for a light support. There wasn’t any time to check thinking. While doing it, my balance and integration, with the help of her hands, seemed amazing."

Joan Frost, ACAT '83

"Judy Leibowitz was my primary teacher when I trained at ACAT, and my dear colleague until her death. She was profoundly influential on me; I feel the way she taught is still the foundation of how I work, even after many years of developing my own style. How great it is that her book 'Dare to be Wrong' exists, for which I am so grateful to Kathy Miranda. What a perfect title, in Judy's own words, to convey the essence of what she offered her students.

This book is simultaneously a reference book that I return to again and again, a concrete record of how a master teacher worked, and an emotional experience of Judy coming back to life on the page. I feel her hands, hear her voice, and my nervous system starts to respond! I also respond to her passion for, and fascination with the work, her sense of the potential it holds, and her ability to understand and communicate about the work in its multilayered totality- its complexity and simplicity. (As she always used to say, the Alexander Technique is full of paradox!)

Dare to be Wrong is truly a treasure for Alexander teachers, students, and anyone interested in the Alexander Technique. To pick up this books is to be inspired. "

Kim Jessor, ACAT '81

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Brooke1web.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]N. BROOKE LIEB, Director of Teacher Certification since 2008, received her certification from ACAT in 1989, joined the faculty in 1992. Brooke has presented to 100s of people at numerous conferences, has taught at C. W. Post College, St. Rose College, Kutztown University, Pace University, The Actors Institute, The National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Dennison University, and Wagner College; and has made presentations for the Hospital for Special Surgery, the Scoliosis Foundation, and the Arthritis Foundation; Mercy College and Touro College, Departments of Physical Therapy; and Northern Westchester Hospital. Brooke maintains a teaching practice in NYC, specializing in working with people dealing with pain, back injuries and scoliosis; and performing artists. www.brookelieb.com[/author_info] [/author]