"Nyle has absolutely made me a better teacher," says Murgatroyd

By Patrick Gomez
Updated March 22, 2016 09:20 AM
Credit: ABC/Craig Sjodin

brightcove.createExperiences(); “Peta Murgatroyd has never had a challenge quite like being Nyle DiMarco‘s partner on Dancing with the Stars.

Because the America’s Next Top Model winner is deaf, Murgatroyd has had to develop an entire new way of teaching in order to prepare him for his dances.

“Nyle has absolutely made me a better teacher,” the pro dancer told PEOPLE after Monday’s season 22 premiere. “I have to be very careful to explain myself so well and make sure that the words I am using to describe things are very clear.”

But Murgatroyd, 29, was quick to point out that DiMarco, 26, is a fast learner.

“I mean, he is a smart guy. It’s not like I have to dumb anything down,” she explained. “But if I want him to put his foot on the floor, I have to show him how to do it. I can’t just tell him, ‘Be strong with the leg.’ I have to describe what I want.”

And even though Murgatroyd sent DiMarco to the hospital during their first days of rehearsal after an accident, the work the two are doing in the rehearsal room is paying off.

“You could be America’s Next Top Dancer. Unbelievable,” judge Bruno Tonioli said Monday, while Carrie Ann Inaba raved that the deaf model “brought the rhythm to life.”

“The judges are the most intimidating part. This is their expertise, so to get that feedback from them is a relief,” DiMarco – who vlogs exclusively for PEOPLE – said after his well-received performance. “But that doesn’t mean I can take it easy for week two.”

Murgatroyd and DiMarco will dance again Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.