Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Lesson for Teachers

I went to a workshop for teachers today, and I learned many great things about how to communicate the practice of yoga in a more meaningful way. (I'll share more about the workshop later.) But I also noticed something that's been bugging me about yoga teacher workshops for.. well, as long as I've gone to them. When a group of yoga teacher get together to talk teaching techniques, there's usually also at least some energy given to criticizing other teachers (and broadcasting how much more competent WE are).

In part of the workshop we were asked to voice our personality strengths and weaknesses as a teacher. For the weaknesses, a common theme emerged: Insecurity about making mistakes. When a brave soul spoke up about how she beats herself up when she said left instead of right, every head in the room nodded with understanding. We've all been there!

Later, the conversation took at turn for the worse.

Several people talked about their experiences in other people's classes. There wasn't enough instruction. There was too much instruction. This one teacher would NOT shut up... Yada yada yada.*

I bit my tongue.

All I could think is that there's no wonder we beat ourselves up over our teaching mistakes when we sit through this kind of critique of other teachers. I mean, come on! That's one of us you're talking about! God (and anyone who's suffered through one of my classes) knows I've made a TON of mistakes in my teaching efforts.

I have a better idea. The next time I'm in a yoga class and I can tell that the teacher is struggling. I'm not going to roll my eyes and make a note to bring it up in my next teacher workshop. I'm going to smile at her. I'm going to devote my Sun Salutations to her. I'm going to look around and see that even though this might not be working for me, someone else in the room is hearing exactly the message they need to hear in this moment. And when class is over, I'm going to make a point to tell her how much I appreciate her efforts--even if she didn't teach her class the way I would have.

*To be fair, the critique segment was very short compared to others I've endured.