This began as an article about the essence of tutors aims for the first day of Teacher Training, and has transmogrified into an ethical quandary!
But it is all good!
Making a living in the Health and Wellbeing world can be challenging to say the least.
Creating a better life for your loved ones, while staying true to your ethos in this instant, review-orientated world, is a consideration I think most teachers and trainers address regularly. When it comes to embarking on creating your own Teacher Training Course this becomes essential - and fraught with choices which must include a balance between humanity and impartiality. We have ego, finance, friendship, love, duty, manners, and more to consider in the process of tutoring future Yoga teachers.
This might be a very personal perspective, but one thing that keeps me on my toes is the dance between maintaining the integrity of the course aims, and supporting the emotional fallibility of the participants. Add to that the need to convince these humans that they can relax, they are in good hands, without Dogma, Guru-ness, rudeness or control-freak behavior.
Say some boundlessly enthusiastic and talented single mum has oodles of intent, but misses her study responsibilities several months running. She requires empathy. BUT! what about your duty to ensure that future generations receive quality Yoga Teachers. It's hard.
As MASLOW said, to educate you need to break down obstacles to learning someone may have. But, you can only do so much. You cannot go and babysit everyone's kids so they can take a class.
The first day of training is the one big chance you get to address what you can and cannot do for your students, and what they should and should not do for themselves.
This is a delicate balance, too much and they will run for the hills, too little and they will be apathetic about the project. The topics you have to teach on day One may remain the same on each training course, but the essence in which they are taught will change each time dependent on the nature of the group.
Of course, you need a detailed application process from which to make a Training Needs Analysis (that is another article if you want let me know) to flag anything that may inhibit a certain student in the course you have chosen to, or you have been chosen to teach.
Let me give a brief example here:
JANE is 59 years old, with a 4 days a week Ashtanga practice, she had her children young and stayed at home with them until they went off to uni. She works part time as a receptionist at a local hotel. No injuries.
What might we need to know about Jane?: Well if she is participating to deepen her practice, nothing. However, if she wishes to be a Teacher and your course has a summative assessment, you might be surprised at Janes inability to commit to a study strategy. She is out of formal education too long and just does not know how. The last time she studied was all about learning stuff off from books, she has also probably never presented anything to a group. Anyway that is a digression for Jane only. What we need is a group strategy laid out essentially in the first few minutes, hours and days of the training course.
So here are MY ESSENTIAL AIMS for setting the Ethical Tone of Any Teacher Training
1. Create a space at the very beginning for people to publicly express their talents and their doubts. Make it fun!
Ask the question? " What is your superpower, and what do you think might prevent you from thriving in this course?
This way they can hear that they are not alone. As their Lead teacher, you need to be able to reassure them that you have dealt with these doubts before in your teaching experience, but, don't make it up. If you have not encountered a students particular obstacle before, seek supervision form fellow Yoga Trainers.
2. Set REALISTIC expectations for study and practice goals. Give people clear achievable daily tasks. Start small and add to them as their love of yoga grows. Only childless, jobless, commute-less people have 2 hours per day to dedicate to study and practice.
3. Encourage the groups confidence in you so that they can fully commit themselves to learning from you and from references you suggest.
When people feel insecure that can lash out, get angry and much as you wish to remain humble, they need to feel confident in handing responsibility of over to you for this particular bit of their lives.
Here is what you can do.
a. Take time to explain your training and experience- make sure it includes more that just Yoga Training. This is real life they are looking for.
b. Without being controlling - take control! Set clear guidelines about questions and answers. You are not there to answer everything about everything Yoga - stick with the syllabus, gently reign in any discussion that deviates too far, for too long, or that you know will be covered but just not yet.
c. Never be afraid to say you do not know something. You should of course be super prepared for all topics you will teach. However, if something comes up that is pertinent to the course admit you are not 100% certain of something but that you are happy to ask and research and get back to someone.
d. Never disrespect another teachers methods, as long as they are ethical. In the long run this makes you look uneducated. If someone questions a method different to yours, simply explain that you were not there when the situation occurred and what happened may have been specific to that situation, so you cannot comment.
4. Encourage team spirit and bonding, with group and partner work from the first day. Create an online social group and share light -hearted and relevant references on it so that others will too. Peer learning rocks. In my 12 years training, the better the group bond the higher the success rate.
5. Get the students speaking out loud on day one. The first time they speak in public is the most nerve wracking for them. This is a Teacher Training so set it as standard practice form the get-go.
6. Tell the group if you are injured or cannot do a certain pose. Yoga teachers are not performers but facilitators. They need to know this by you experience and testimony. If you have not figured out how to teach with an injury, then you cannot hope to impart that skill to others.
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