Two weeks ago my group’s academic session was titled “Sequencing 1” – and in those two hours I received some good basic instruction on how to structure a 60-90 minute yoga class. Today I attended the academic session titled “Sequencing 2” – but I don’t think that title is fully accurate. If I were to re-name the session, I would have titled it “Student Teaching 101”. Here’s why.
For the first 30 minutes of the class, the instructor gave us some decent tips and knowledge nuggets that brand new teachers/trainers/facilitators typically receive before they embark on their first assignment. Among the items the instructor mentioned include: knowing your audience; meeting students where they are at (both in their physically capabilities and their subject knowledge/understanding); using clear and descriptive language to convey information correctly and at an appropriate level of detail; remaining patient with all students; and so on. All good stuff, especially for people who have never taught anything before. Then for the remaining 90 minutes of the session, the instructor had all of us break into groups of 3, and we each taught a small 20-minute section of a class sequence we developed to our two peers – in effect, a mini student teaching experience.
I’ve spent the past 10 years in my professional career teaching/training adults in a corporate setting. So by now, I have a pretty solid grasp on how to express myself clearly through words, how to stand before a group and project confidence even when I’m nervous inside, how to manage multiple logistics simultaneously while still trying to facilitate knowledge transfer… I’m good-to-go on the tips-for-new-teachers track. Where I need help, assistance, and lots of practice is with the subject matter of yoga. I can teach process improvement and curriculum development and how to deliver effective feedback all day long; what I really don’t know how to do terribly well (yet) is coach people through a solid vinyasa, help people connect with their bodies, give verbal and hands-on corrections confidently… So the final 90 minutes of today’s class was helpful for me. Nerve-wracking, but helpful.
Unfortunately, the teacher wasn’t present in the room where my small group was practicing, so I didn’t get any feedback on what I did well or what I could do better.
My two fellow “teacher” students told me a few things that I did during my teaching segment that they liked, but their comments weren’t the here’s-how-you-can-improve type of feedback I know I would have received from the ‘real’ teacher. So while it was terrific for me to practice, I was also disappointed that I received lesser benefits from the session than what I might have gotten had the ‘official’ teacher been in the room with us.
But, alas, it is what it is. I did ask the few questions that I had to the session teacher after the class had ended, so I got what was mission-critical from the class; I just would have liked to have received some ‘extra’ tidbits, too. Maybe next time.