I think there a couple different attitudes of students out there:
- those willing to give you a chance, mainly because their other instructor said to
- those who will never like you
- those who just want the work, they don't care about the personality
and those categories can be broken down into a motivation for being the student in the first place:
- those who want a workout
- those who are there for their own "me"time
- those who are there because they feel like they "should" be (whether it's because everyone else is doing it and it's the hottest thing, guilt, or someone in their life made them come)
- those who are there as a social outing
In a private lesson, you can connect with a person and get to understand their motivation and their willingness to work. Usually whatever the reason for being there and attitude, I can get through to them. At least for an hour.
Group classes, however, are another story. When I enter a group class, my goal is to give them a good, true Pilates workout, safely. But, I am realizing, because there is more than one person involved, I cannot make all of them happy. The chances of all of them having the same attitude and the same motivation is probably 0.
Last week, I subbed a group class. There were 6 people. 2 were there for the work. They left happy campers, and 1 has joined another of my classes. 1 person wanted nothing to do with me. I tried to offer corrections, and she wouldn't take them. She left frustrated and unhappy. One was disappointed that the class did not take the full hour, yet she said the class was good. My guess is that she was there for "me" time. Her goal was unfulfilled (on all our paperwork, it says "Classes are 50-55min", but whatever). Now know why she is there, if I have her in a class again, I can be more sensitive to the fact that she is the for an hour, an hour she doesn't have to be anywhere else, doing anything else, and she would like to keep it that way. 2 people I couldn't get a good read on. They worked out, they left.
It took me a good deal of reflection to understand that my teaching style is not going to fulfill every one's needs. That's why all the mentors have said "Not everyone will like your class. Don't take it personally." I've wondered, "How do I not take it personally?!" But know I can see that there are just too many variables in a group of people to meet all of their needs.
The attitude someone comes in with can change, if they want it to. I can't make that happen, no matter how much I change up my style. If they want their teacher, that's pretty much ballgame for me. If they want the work, or if they are willing to try, then we're in business. I think your motivation drives your attitude. Again, if they are there for the work, they are going to leave fulfilled. If they came for another reason, I may be able hit that, but it isn't my main goal.
Having these experiences has helped me to clarify my teaching style- Work, technique, safety. But that doesn't mean I get to ignore the fact that people come in looking for something else. I need to learn to balance my goals with theirs.