About six years ago I gave my first class. My mestre was traveling and no one was able to fill in for him, so he asked me. I already had some experience with doing warm-ups, but teaching a complete class was new. I quickly realized I should take the time to prepare the exercises and write everything down, so I wouldn’t forget anything.
From that moment on I kind of became my mestre’s assistant, teaching (parts of) classes when he couldn’t be there. It has now been about three years since I started as a full-time teacher –together with my best friend– and the tradition of preparing and writing down each class stuck.
Since last season we’ve introduced a fixed structure which we re-use each class. I’d like to share our method of preparing a class. I hope this will be helpful as a guide for new(er) teachers.
What our classes look like
Every class we start with a warm-up of ~10 minutes. We try to bring variation in the sort of warm-up, so it stays fun. Sometimes we run across the room doing small exercises, sometimes we just do movementação and other days we play a game (e.g. variations on tag, ball games, …).
After activating our cardiovascular system, we do approximately 5 minutes of dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is more effective before your training. Read about the difference between dynamic and static stretching here and here.
Some of the exercises we do are: leg swings (front, back, lateral), arm swings, lunges + body twists, hand to toe walks …
We try to do a short workout each class, but it depends on how much time we need for the actual training. A workout usually takes about another 5 minutes. It can be as simple as:
- 1′ push-ups, 10″ rest
- 1′ squats, 10″ rest,
- 1′ tuck-ups, 10″ rest
- 1′ planking, 10″ rest
After the warm-up and stretching, we start with the training itself which usually is 45-50 minutes long.
Towards the end of the class, we take another five minutes to do some static stretching. This counts as a cooling down as well, when there is no roda at the end.
Music and/or roda
The last part of class is either some music, a roda or both. We try to introduce new songs on a regular basis (often corridos or simple ones). If we do a roda, we usually ask our students to implement the subject of the training into their games. For example, if the class was about armadas and counter attacks we might ask to only kick armadas and answer with straight kicks.
The last minutes of the roda are always free games. We also encourage every student to try to play an instrument or to sing a song, without pressuring them too much.
While most classes follow this structure, we sometimes deviate from it when necessary. Some classes have very specific topics, calling for another way to organize the training. But having and maintaining a structure is a great advantage for you as a teacher and the students. When preparing a class, it’s a lot easier to fill the different parts then to try to come up with something new every time. Your class won’t look chaotic, which is a plus for the students. You’re also sure to cover all topics, without forgetting the musical part for example.
When you are going to be teaching for a longer period of time, it is best to create a planning for the whole season. Think about all the topics you want to deal with and on which points your students need to improve most. Put everything in a logical order and create a weekly planning. Then mix it up a little bit by planning “special” classes throughout the year, like a music class, maculelê, a cardio workout, an Angola class, … Don’t make your planning too tight, so you still have some creative freedom when preparing the classes.
Another tool which can help you to add variety between classes is a list of movements. Create a long list of all movements you can think of: basics, defensive moves, offensive moves, head butts, takedowns, acrobatics, … Or use Google to find a list on the internet. Use this list to keep track of what you’ve already done during the year (so you don’t end up teaching 20 classes about queixada) and as resource for inspiration. Use it to create your seasonal planning as well.
Keeping a catalog
As I stated in the beginning, I write down every class when I prepare it. As a result, I now have a folder on my computer stacked with separate exercises, complete trainings, warm-up games, … On top of my own notes I try to write down interesting exercises I learn at workshops and add them to the list.
I now have a complete catalog of material which I can browse for inspiration or share with new(er) teachers. As I become more experienced in teaching, the need for written material will fade but nonetheless it will remain an interesting collection.
I recommend all new teachers to always take the time to prepare their class. Think about exercises you’ve done with your teacher, things you’ve seen at events, browse YouTube for inspiration. Then make sure to write down your preparation and take it with you to class (in case you get nervous or forget something). After a year or two, you’ll be able to look back and notice your evolution. You’ll also be able to tweak and improve your old exercises and maybe re-use them one day.