Moving Past the Ego.
What do you do or say when one of those students, almost inevitably after an extended amount of time teaching, either fills out a card on “what can your teacher (or our studio) do better?” or gets ballsy and gives the owner a ring?
Growing up, in elementary school and in dance classes with unforgiving teachers, I never liked to hear any negative feedback on my progress.
Who really does?
But when it’s something like statistics, the wound is a bit less to bear than, say, one of your greatest passions.
Teaching yoga is a humbling experience. You take a deep look into your own eyes, and the eyes of others—in most cases, gazes you have never met before. Assuming the role of teacher puts you out there quite literally. Sometimes people will love your classes, and other times they may not. One week a student may be swooning for your heart-opening sequence, and another week they’re cursing all those damn backbends.
Teaching takes a great amount of confidence, which not every teacher always feels while teaching every class. We are no doubt all human, subject to mood swings and a constant struggle to tune out our own inner chatter.
What about the students? If they came to a yoga class, they must have a certain level of respect, understanding, curiosity, appreciation for the practice, right?
Some, if not many of those students attending class are looking for a means to get rid of that damn junk in the trunk…or check out all the hot chicks in contortions. We have the athletically overzealous who like to “do” everything “right” and easily grow frustrated by the dynamics of the postures they come in contact with. The list goes on and on in terms of who is coming to class—it’s a pretty hefty order for one person to be in complete charge of.
What do you do or say when one of those students, almost inevitably after an extended amount of time teaching, either fills out a card on “what can your teacher (or our studio) do better?” or gets ballsy and gives the owner a ring? Nothing. Are you supposed to conclude your teaching career is over and you don’t know a thing about teaching yoga after all? Of course not. What may have been an “off” day for you (and every teacher has them) could have been a bad day for another person, or a student who was ultimately at odds with their own capabilities.
At the end of the day, the reality is you are not now or ever going to please every student who walks into your class. So continue to do what you’re doing and so long as you keep learning and growing as a teacher while making sure the students are following, don’t sweat it. Their opinion is, however, something to reflect upon and consider.
There is always room for improvement. Opportunities to learn more are endless. A favorite book that sits with me often as a sensitive person is, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The second agreement is “Don’t take anything personally.”
It is never about you. He relates this phenomenon to even the most extreme case of a person holding a gun to your head and, you get the picture, it’s not about you as a person, or even your teaching! Everything that ensues with another person is simply about just that—the other person.
Jessica Sarkis is a former Washingtonian turned Chicagoan. She enjoys practicing and teaching yoga, while in the process of getting back to her love of writing.
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