Over the past two weeks, I’ve definitely noticed that I’ve enjoyed some days at AT school more than others. The program is quite a chaotic in it’s arrangement, in a way. I’ve mentioned before that there are nine people in the program, all at different levels, but there are also two different tracks, a morning track and a lunchtime track. I’m in the lunchtime track, from 10:35am to 1:35pm every day. The morning track joins us on some days, but on others it starts earlier and overlaps, so sometimes there are nine students for the first half of the class, then after lunch it drops to five or seven. And there are additional people who only come on certain days. It’s a constantly changing group. Some days the first part of the session is a group lecture/discussion, followed by individual work in partners or small groups, people getting individual private turns with the teachers. Other days, it is mostly individual/small group work with brief check-ins as a group.
I realized today, the last day of my second week, that the days I enjoy the most are the ones with the longer lecture/discussions. I thought it might be because the time is more directly structured. As I’m just starting, the self-directed portions made me feel a little lost at sea. But then I realized that there is one secondary teacher on one of the less-structured days that I’ve really enjoyed working with. She has a way of working that makes me feel “seen” in amongst all the different people working at different levels of expertise.
In class today, it clicked why I’ve been enjoying the parts that I have more than the others. It’s because of eye contact. In the individual/small group work, when you are working with a teacher they are usually standing behind you or to the side with their hands on you, guiding and directing you as you work. The nature of the interaction during an AT lesson is often very non-verbal. Words are used to convey simple and direct instructions or evocative imagery. Some teachers will be more chatty, to fill the space and to help you not get too caught up in sensation and what you are doing, but the verbal interaction is very light, most of the communication happening through the hands. In the lecture and full group sessions, the teacher is at the center of focus making eye contact with everybody. There’s something about this mode that I find very comforting to slip into, probably from years of it at school in the UK. I mentioned this to my boyfriend. “You mean it validates your sense of yourself as the center of the universe,” he said.
Oh, dear. I think he’s right.