Memo to New Teachers: Be Patient

I am a slow learner. Things need to percolate in my brain for a long time before they make their way to the surface in a sensible way. I am also human, which means insecure. I didn’t like teaching when I started. It was stressful to know nothing and stand in front of a group of students and tell them what to do.

Soon after finishing our initial teacher training my wife and I did a week long teacher training with Rodney Yee. Towards the end of the week there was a moment where everyone was in poses and Rodney would say, “Move your sit bone a little to the right. Do you feel the attachment of the hamstring,” or some such instruction. There were ooh and aahs from the gathered teachers while I sat there lost and confused.

After about fifteen minutes of this I turned to my wife and whispered, “They are all full of s**t. They can’t possibly feel what they say they are feeling.” And I left it at that feeling very insecure about my abilities.

About three years later I had this moment of subtly somewhere in my practice and had a eureka! moment. They weren’t lying. It was me who didn’t feel what was going on deep inside. And then I did.

I hated teaching when I first started. I felt supremely unprepared and incapable. It wasn’t that students weren’t enjoying themselves. It was me and my lack of confidence that was the issue. I used to plan my classes and print out three copies of the plan and tape them up at different points of the room in order to never forget where I was in my sequence. That helped but not by much.

About a year into teaching I decided not to plan a class. It was very liberating and exciting. It was also an acknowledgment to myself that I was starting to get it— a little.

Everyone is different. Many years later having trained a lot of teachers, I can say that not everyone needs this learning curve. I have met people who were sharp right out of the box for whatever reason. And I have also met many who seemed to be like myself—able, but in need of time to germinate.

Be nice to yourself. If you want to figure this stuff out you will if you give yourself the time. The world is full of great artists who never came to be because of a fear of being bad before they were good.

Perseverance will further.